Often the sight of an American crocodile frightens nearby residents and visitors. Crocodiles are normally shy and reclusive, and typically choose to stay away from areas where people live. However, they can become accustomed to people after prolonged exposure to people and may even allow people to approach them closer than is advisable. Additionally, they may learn to approach people if they’ve become accustomed to receiving fish scraps at fish cleaning stations, or have been directly fed by people.
NOTE: Feeding any wild crocodilian in Florida is illegal.
They will sometimes come into developed areas, but often move on in a short time. Even if an American crocodile remains in the area, there is no reason to be unduly alarmed. People can safely coexist with American crocodiles by following a few common sense safety tips which are listed in our brochure, A Guide to Living with Crocodiles.
American crocodiles naturally prey on small mammals, so pets are always at some risk. A dog or cat is viewed by a crocodile as just another small mammal. Consequently, pets are not safe near the water and should always be kept at least ten feet from the water’s edge and never allowed to run free or swim where crocodiles may occur. Pet owners who live on the water where American crocodiles may occur should consider erecting fencing on their property that effectively places a barrier between their pets and crocodiles.
People should avoid swimming in areas where American crocodiles may occur.
Despite its shy nature, an American crocodile is still a predatory animal and can be dangerous. You should never approach a crocodile. The FWC’s approach to dealing with crocodile-human conflicts is a balance between the needs of a recovering imperiled native species with realistic public safety. If you see an American crocodile that concerns you, please call the FWC's Statewide Nuisance Alligator Hotline (1-866-FWC-GATOR [866-392-4286]) to report the animal. Your information will be given to a biologist who may speak to you about the situation, or if needed, a FWC Crocodile Response Agent may be instructed to contact you and conduct a site visit at your location to gather more information.
Often, the best course of action is to simply give the crocodile time to move on. Depending on the crocodile’s size, behavior, and situation the animal might be captured and moved. Moving problem animals, however is often unsuccessful because crocodiles can, and usually do, return to their capture site, even traveling over long distances to get there. Moving usually results in only a temporary solution to the problem. Additionally, some of these animals die as a result of handling or while attempting to return to their capture site. If a problem crocodile continues to return to the capture site, or its behavior presents an unacceptable risk to people, it could be removed from the wild, under certain circumstances, and placed into captivity.
If you are currently permitted to operate an exhibit that is open to the public or provide educational presentations and are interested in providing a home to an American crocodile that we remove from the wild, you may contact the Alligator Management Program via the FWC's Statewide Nuisance Alligator Hotline (1-866-FWC-GATOR [866-392-4286]) or by emailing SNAP@MyFWC.com.
For American crocodiles to continue to recover, people must be willing to coexist with them whenever possible. If you see an American crocodile, consider yourself lucky - crocodiles are rare and reclusive and few Floridians get an opportunity to observe them in the wild!