A large alligator crosses the road to the Hilton Head plantation


Please note: this is the season for alligator crossings on Hilton Head Island.

Bonnie Gutman shared a photo of a 12-foot alligator crossing Seabrook Drive at Hilton Head Plantation on May 10.

The cars kept their distance as they approached the huge alligator.

The animal crossed the road fairly quickly, Gutman said, and she and others only gave in for a minute or two.

“A friend suggests that this photo is a reminder to everyone that we share our surroundings with creatures large and small, and that we must be in awe of them, as well as very careful with these many different and beautiful species,” he said. -she shares. with The Island Packet.

Spring is mating season for the American alligator, so you’re more likely to see males moving between lagoons to meet their mates between late March and early June.

Hilton Head Plantation gator.jpg
A large alligator crosses Seabrook Drive at Hilton Head Plantation on May 10, 2021. Bonnie Gutman Submitted to The Island Packet

Hilton Head Alligator Safety

Alligators, native to Hilton Head and the Lowcountry, can grow 12 feet or taller. They are often found in the sun on the edges of ponds or lagoons. Animals are ectothermic, which means they depend on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.

If you do run into one, keep your distance. Approaching or feeding an alligator is one of the worst things you can do – for you and the animal – according to the SC Department of Natural Resources.

When alligators associate humans with food, they are more likely to come towards them and be seen as threatening. When removed from backyards, properties or lagoons, they are often euthanized.

A large alligator knocked over patio furniture outside a house in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island on Monday, April 20, 2020. Fernando Lossada

Here are some tips for avoiding alligators during mating season:

  • Scan the edges of the lagoons to look for alligator activity: avoid, regardless of the size of the alligator.
  • Never feed an alligator: Alligators are more likely to approach people if they have already been fed, according to the SCDNR.
  • Keep in mind that while alligators are mostly freshwater animals, they can survive in salt or brackish water for several hours or even days, depending on the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If you are approached by an alligator, wildlife expert Corbin Maxey said Business Insider that you should back up without turning your back on the alligator.

If you’re bitten by an alligator, Maxey said, don’t try to pry open the animal’s jaws. Instead, attack the animal’s sensitive muzzle and hit its eyes.

More importantly, Maxey said, don’t play dead. Ideally, you would stay out of the animal’s territory in the first place, he said.

What to do when you see an alligator …

  1. To the beach: If an alligator is swimming in the water or on the beach, notify a lifeguard and stay out of the water. Alligators can only survive in salt water for a few days.
  2. On the golf course: Clear the area and keep a safe distance. Let the alligator reach its destination while you warn other golfers. Report the alligator sighting to the clubhouse.
  3. On a cycle path or in a public park: Keep your distance and encourage other cyclists or park users to do the same. Let the animal pass.
  4. In your garden: Stay indoors and watch children and pets. Report the alligator to your homeowners association or, if necessary, to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

If an alligator doesn’t appear aggressive, keep your distance; leave the animal alone under almost all circumstances.

When an alligator begins to threaten people or pets, it may be time to discuss its removal with the SCDNR.

The SCDNR helpline, (800) 922-5431, will connect you with a biologist and help you determine next steps, according to agency spokesperson David Lucas.

Not all alligators need to be removed and euthanized. Community security officers sometimes move small alligators to other lagoons in the same neighborhood.

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Katherine Kokal graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Island Packet newsroom in 2018. Before moving to the Lowcountry, she worked as an interviewer and translator for a non-profit organization. lucrative in Barcelona and at two NPR member stations. At The Island Packet, Katherine covers government, environment, development, beaches and the all-important Loggerhead Turtle on Hilton Head Island. She has won awards from the South Carolina Press Association for her in-depth reporting, government reporting, business reporting, growth and development reporting, food writing, and for her use of social media.

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