Weekend shoppers at an Apopka, Florida Walmart were forced to make a detour when a six-foot-long alligator blocked one of the store’s main entrances. Although not very large by gator standards, the gator managed to trigger the Walmart’s motion-activated doors repeatedly until employees shut down the entrance.
“Someone inside said, ‘There’s a gator at the door,'” shopper Robin Watkins told WESH 2. “It was a nice-size gator, just chilling.”
The alligator’s early Sunday visit was a strange one for many shoppers, but the presence of police ensured that the brush with wildlife remained a safe one. The alligator lounged for an hour near the doors and finally sauntered away to a nearby pond before the arrival of wildlife officials.
Video of the incident can be seen below:
Sightings of alligators in Florida are not uncommon and officials say that any under four feet are generally too small to be a threat, even to pets. Alligators are solitary animals which occasionally can get into places where they are not welcome, which accounts for thousands of removals each year. The reptiles are especially active during the spring and summer when they move for mating or to find new homes. Larger alligators are less likely to move than smaller ones, which may have been kicked out of their old habitats by a rival. Alligators do not usually approach humans, and one should be considered dangerous if it begins walking towards people or domestic animals.
As many hunters may know, gators can be faster than they look. The animals are capable of achieving speeds over 35 miles per hour on land, and can sometimes burst out of the water when people get too close. Alligators make a characteristic hiss when another animal gets too near. Any instances of an alligator chasing people should be reported to wildlife officials immediately, as it would indicate that the animal has lost its fear of humans.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to keep the animals from getting too cozy with humans. Wildlife experts say that any gator over four feet in length is a significant problem, especially large males, which can grow up to 14 feet. The state employs a number of professional trappers to remove or destroy nuisance alligators.