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Cats and gators just don't mix

Dear Fisher,

I recently moved here from New York and I'm unfamiliar with all the outdoor creatures. I love to roam about and take long walks and sometimes stay out after dark. If you know any dangers posed by my meeting up with some of these Florida natives, would you please clue me in? I am completely out of my element down here.


Welcome to Florida! I hope you have a long and healthy life here.

That being said, it sounds like you and your family have decided on your living a life free of the boundaries of your house. Unless you are out there raising havoc, destroying property and doing bad things in the kid next door's sandbox, it is a personal family decision and your safety is entirely in your own paws.

My friends at Florida Pets ( have comprised a decent list of wildlife hazards. The list is not meant to scare anyone; it is so pets and their families can make their own decisions about the lifestyle they want in the Sunshine State.

Rattlesnakes try to attract your playful nature by, you guessed it, rattling. Just wait until you see the sharpness of their teeth.

Cottonmouth and coral snakes are very dangerous. While the coral snake is native to Florida, they are pretty rare. As you are hunting mice and small critters, remember that they are, too. Pick your battles wisely.

Alligators show up in unannounced. There is no room for negotiation. Run!

Raccoons and foxes can be just about as cute as you, but they can carry some serious diseases and should be avoided.

Bears and coyotes are more rural threats. However, as urban territories expand and take their homes away, they might just decide to come into town and take something from you. Like your life.

— Fisher lives in Tampa Bay with her humans and loves to give advice. Send questions and a photo to [email protected] or visit

Cats and gators just don't mix 07/31/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 9:16am]
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