It's not every day you see a crocodile in Florida. An alligator? Sure, those are pretty much everywhere in the Sunshine State. But crocodiles (which live in saltwater as opposed to freshwater as alligators do) are much rarer.
So when Key Largo, Florida, resident Victor Perez saw a pool noodle floating across a local canal, his first instinct wasn't that there was a crocodile using it as a flotation device. But, according to Fox News, upon closer inspection, Perez noticed the creature on top of the bright yellow noodle.
"I don't know how he got that thing, but he looked like just any typical Florida tourist!" Perez told the Miami Herald in an interview.
According to the Florida Fish and Wild Life Conservation Commission, Florida crocodiles are especially reclusive. Southern Florida is about as far north as these crocodiles live, making them a much rarer sighting in Florida than alligators (which they are commonly mistaken for).
Since crocodiles are usually found in brackish water (aka saltwater), canals like the one in Key Largo are a common place for the animals to travel in and out of.
As a January 2018 article in the Sun Sentinel pointed out, crocodiles are becoming much more common in South Florida neighborhoods as of late, despite their usually shy disposition.
The species has had a resurgence recently, an encouraging fact that has naturally also resulted in more sightings of crocs in neighborhood settings.
At one point, fewer than 300 of these American crocodiles were believed to be living at the tip of the Everglades. Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates 1,500 to 2,000 crocodiles are calling the Sunshine State home.
It's encouraging to see a once decimated species population start to climb, but it also means it's important to educate yourself on how to handle a crocodile sighting.
The Florida Wildlife Commission advises people to avoid swimming in areas where crocodiles are frequently spotted (common sense, people!) and also points out that pets are not safe near these areas. In fact, you should make sure Fido is at least 10 feet away from the water's edge at all times — because hungry crocodiles don't share the love you have for your pet.
Lastly, as with any wildlife, don't feed crocodiles. It's actually illegal in Florida, and for good reason: These wild animals could become accustomed to getting free snacks from humans and thus start approaching people — and I think we speak for most people when we say we're cool with not being stalked by crocodiles while enjoying a nice walk in the Florida sunshine.