(WGHP) — The next time you’re out in the coastal region of North Carolina enjoying this late-summer weather, make sure to keep an eye out for any baby alligators.

They usually hatch from mid-August to early-September after incubating for around two months, according to the National Parks Service.

If you see any baby alligators, park officials urge you to keep your distance and not get any closer than 15 feet.

NC alligator distribution map (credit: NC Wildlife Resources Commission)
NC alligator distribution map (credit: NC Wildlife Resources Commission)

Alligators can be found in North Carolina mainly at the bottom of the state and the coastal plains, according to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

They inhabit freshwater bodies of water and are most commonly found in Brunswick, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender Counties.

While they can be frightening if encountered in the wild, alligators are important predators that keep many species in balance by eating multiple different types of prey.

The nest mounds female alligators build provide a place for other animals to lay eggs and for plants to propagate. The holes they dig can also serve as critical shelter for other animals.

The trails alligators use most often form deep channels of water that give aquatic animals a place to shelter.