Fallen trees and debris blocking streets after a major hurricane, completely expected. Traffic gridlock as people try to return home, unavoidable. But an alligator strolling across a six-lane road?
Yes, alligators have been spotted on Florida streets after Irma and state authorities are warning residents to beware. There’s also a snake problem, by the way.
Video from Melbourne, Fla. showed a human-size alligator trekking along a thoroughfare over the weekend, stopping traffic as it moved toward a grassy area near a car dealership and a furniture store.
Images captured the creature standing still on the edge of the road. Then, it starts creeping along in that sneaky, slow pace you’ve seen them do on TV before it finally picks up speed and disappears into the grass.
“Not sure the Mandatory evacuations apply to this guy,” tweeted a driver.
We’re not sure either.
What we do know is that motorists and others shouldn’t be surprised to see alligators and other critters on road infrastructure post-storm.
The powerful hurricane that battered much of Florida since the weekend also displaced wildlife, including some of the state’s famous alligators – an estimated 1.3 million are said to live in Florida.
The Florida Department of Health tweeted early Tuesday about the dangers, and asked residents to “be alert to wildlife”.
Alligator sightings were also reported after Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of Texas last month. Authorities said there was reports of eight-foot alligators in front yards and smaller creatures in driveways. Also, spotted? Deer crossing streets to higher ground to escape rising water. And lots of snakes.
In Florida, there have been increasing reports of snake bites across the state, authorities said. And scenes like this one of a snake taking refuge inside a mail box in Cocoa Beach.
In Orlando, another alligator was spotted strolling the streets and across a sidewalk during the storm.
Before Irma hit, officials at Gatorland said their thousands of alligators, crocodiles and venomous snakes, were safe and would not be escaping.
“None of our animals are going anywhere here at Gatorland, so if you see an alligator floating down your street there at your house, it ain’t ours; don’t call us,” park president Mark McHugh said. “Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Department.”
Alligators may be seen more frequently in areas with flooding, officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said. But no need to worry because incidents between people and alligators are rare.
“As with all wildlife, treat them with respect and give them their distance,” spokeswoman Tammy Sapp said. People with concerns about an alligator should call the commission’s Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).