Alligators spend much of their time swimming around in shallow water, but they also enjoy lounging on the shore. What should you do if an alligator begins approaching you as you are walking by? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll talk about how to run away from an alligator on land.
What You'll Learn Today
Are Alligators Friendly?
Alligators typically have a natural fear of humans, so if one approaches you, it will usually be for one of two reasons: to defend itself or to look for food. Some alligators have grown used to being fed by humans, which may make them more likely to approach you even if they don’t feel threatened and aren’t interested in hunting you.
It would be a stretch to say that alligators are friendly to humans–though they may approach you if they think you are there to feed them, they are only interested in an easy meal and not in becoming friends with you.
That said, alligators are not always aggressive toward humans either; most alligator “attacks” are nothing more than harmless encounters and usually result in the alligator moving away without harming the human. Still, alligators have the potential to badly injure and even kill humans; so if you see one, it’s best to keep your distance.
What to Do If You See an Alligator
If you are on land walking near a body of water, and you know alligators live in your area, it’s a good idea to stay alert and watch for any signs of alligator presence. Keep your eyes and ears open; look for alligators basking along the shoreline, in shallow or swampy areas of the water, and listen for the hissing and grunting noises they make.
If you see an alligator or hear alligator sounds:
- Leave the area: Don’t wait for the alligator to notice you or start approaching you. As soon as you see or hear any signs of an alligator nearby, you should immediately leave the area.
- Back away slowly: If an alligator spots you, don’t panic. Keeping your eyes on the alligator to watch for any sudden movements, start backing away slowly.
Alligators are drawn by motion, so it’s important to move slowly and steadily. Back away in a straight line, keeping your eyes on the gator at all times, until you are safely out of range or the alligator has lost interest in you.
- Turn and run if necessary: If the alligator begins moving toward you, immediately turn around and run as fast as you can away from it. Be sure and run in a straight line as much as possible.
How Do You Scare an Alligator Away?
Of course, it’s best to simply leave the area, as discussed above, before having to confront an alligator; but if you can’t get away in time, your best bet is to try and scare the alligator off its attack.
How do you do this?
- Yell and make noise: As noted above, alligators have a natural fear of humans. Though loud noises don’t necessarily scare them off, yelling, shouting, and making as much noise as possible may cause them to back off long enough for you to get away.
- Stand tall: Make yourself look large and threatening. This may cause the alligator to hesitate in its attack, giving you a chance to escape.
- Throw things at the alligator: If an alligator is charging at you, try throwing rocks or other easily available objects at it. The alligator may hesitate or draw back if one of the objects hits it, or it may decide you aren’t worth attacking and head back to the water.
- Punch and kick the alligator: If the alligator gets close enough, then do whatever it takes to fight it off. Punching and kicking the alligator, especially around the head and snout, may cause it to draw back and allow you a moment to get away.
- Go for the eyes or snout: Poking the alligator’s eyes and hitting its snout can also cause it to back off. If all else fails, wrap your hands and arms around the snout to hold its mouth shut and keep it from biting you.
What Do You Do If an Alligator Chases You?
Again, if at all possible, try to avoid getting close enough to an alligator that it will feel the need to chase you. Admittedly, there are times when this isn’t possible; the alligator may sneak up on you and surprise you.
If you find yourself being chased by an alligator:
- Run away in a straight line: As soon as an alligator begins to move toward you, it’s time to start running. Running away in a straight line will put the most distance between you and the gator in the shortest amount of time.
- Throw things at the alligator: If the alligator starts closing in on you, throw anything you might have in your hands back at the alligator to try and slow its progress.
- Turn and fight: Again, if running and throwing things don’t discourage the alligator’s pursuit, turn around and fight it. Stand tall, make loud noises, kick and puck it, and attempt to poke its eyes.
How Fast Can an Alligator Run on Dry Land?
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, alligators can run up to 35 miles per hour on dry land. Of course, they cannot maintain this speed for long distances; in fact, they are somewhat lazy and will probably give up after only a few seconds of pursuit on land.
Alligators are excellent sprinters–agile, quick, and sudden–but they don’t have much endurance. If you keep a good distance between yourself and an alligator, you’ll have a good chance of outrunning it because it won’t chase you very far.
How to Outrun an Alligator
- Run away immediately: The sooner you start running, the better. If you can quickly put enough distance between yourself and the alligator, it may not start chasing you in the first place.
- Run in a straight line: As noted above, running in a straight line helps you cover the greatest distance in a short period of time.
- Take a sharp left or right: Alligators can’t change directions very quickly. If the gator is closing in on you, take a sudden sharp turn to begin running in a new direction.
- Keep running: As you can see in the video below, alligators tend to give up quite easily. If you keep running until you’re a good distance away, chances are, the alligator will give up and stop following you.
If an alligator begins approaching you on land, turn and run away. Alligators are fast runners, but they don’t have the amount of endurance that humans do; they will quickly grow tired and, in most cases, will stop pursuing you.
That said, if an alligator attacks before you can run away, do whatever it takes to fight back. Punch, hit kick, poke the eyes, and grab hold of the snout to hold it shut if necessary–whatever mushr be done to fight the alligator off and avoid injury.