Alligator Safety - A Link-based Primer

From time to time, the discussion of alligator encounters has come up here, with some p-netters - in my perception - playing down the potential risks of operating in alligator occupied waters.

So, rather than getting into a major discussion, here are some links that will give the reader a pretty comprehensive understanding of alligators and the risk factors that may accompany paddling among gators. Let’s let the images and video stand for themselves.

Did you know more people are attacked by alligators than by sharks? So, if you read this material, you can make informed decisions.

Alligator attacking boat (note ability of gator to launch itself out of water): Glad that guy was not on a kayak!

For those who think gators can’t jump:

Alligator charging:

Fate of diver attacked by gator (not for the squeamish):

Golfer loses arm:


Story about attacks:

Video: swimming teen loses arm:

Fisherman attacked:

A short video discussing alligator safety:

How to stay safe from Alligator Attack:

How to survive an alligator attack: (BTW, use your paddle for defense, if necessary, striking at the eyes or snout.)

On a final note – a pack of dogs attacks alligator:

And your point is ?
(Other showing us that alligators can be dangerous)

I hate to bust your bubble, but
the first three pictures are not gators, but crocs!

After that I didn’t look at any more.

I guess if I had nothing better to do, I could go searching and put a hundred recaps of people dying last year from bee stings.

If you have that much fear of gators, just don’t paddle with them.

I personally think they are a unique addition to the REAL FLORIDA!

Jack L

even if it was a credible source
and three real alligators the point is?

Sure I have been on the receiving end of a alligator bluff charge. Should I be afraid? How bout just regarding them as wild animals? With respect?

I saw three trucks rolled over on the hiway yesterday. Perhaps I should stay home. One might roll over on me.

Oh well. Lets get on the mass hysteria bubble. Dont paddle Florida. Get out. Dangerous.

Leave it for me and a select few.

heh, gotta love that
As a California transplant to the south, I had been quite paranoid about kayaking around 'gators in south Georgia and Florida. As has been posted, one must respect them. And, you must not corner them, nor get between mother and babies.

But… I was a bit let down that they’ve been so lethargic.

wild animals
I feel the same way about alligators as I do about bears, rattlesnakes etc—when encountered leave them alone–don’t pick them up, try to pet them, feed them–they are wild and deserve respect–and are best enjoyed from a reasonable distance—remember Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter–killed when he tried to pet a stingray while diving–and given his handling of poisonous snakes and crocs, one could see that it was bound to happen.

two days ago while canoeing in
a sbowstorm I prayed for a bear visit. I wanted to snuggle and get warm so badly.

Being wild animals the bears in the area did not cooperate.

dog pack attack
Loved the story about the dog pack attack. If you didn’t get through all of the links, don’t miss the last one.


Pretty hard to get between this mom …

– Last Updated: Sep-06-10 9:46 AM EST –

and her babys !


We were about five feet from her.
We eased up very slowly, and watched and took pictures for about a half an hour.

I have been studying them and paddling with them for the past thirty years, and the only ones I would keep away from are the big bulls and the ones no matter how small that hang around where the fishermen throw their fish cleanings.

With that said don't force any one of them into a corner, since like any wild animal, they will reach a point where they will defend them selves. even then, when they reach that point, the first thing they will do is face you, open their mouth and hiss. If you continue to move toward it, you deserve the consequences

Naturally it would be pretty stupid to swim with them. they don't know the difference between you and that deer that is swimming across the river.

Jack L

Let experience stand for itself…
I paddle every week with the alligators. Sometimes I camp near and swim in the waters they live in. I am not alone, many of us do it.

Try this. Florida also has lots of nursing homes. Spend a lot of time in one. Goodness knows it will be very rewarding. So many of the old folks are so lonely.

When you leave to go paddling the beauty of the Florida wetlands, give consideration to how you want to face your last day.

I’ll take the alligator.


what a great pic
I look forward to paddling that part of the world some day.

Thanks for the links
They were interesting and informative.

I, too, think the first three are crocs. The “advice” link estimated the chance of being attacked as 1 in 24 million, though I can’t imagine how anyone could generate a valid statistic like that.

I’ve been paddling all over South since 1973 and have never had a problem with gators. (Seen hundreds of them, but never saw a bear anywhere while canoeing.) Just stay in your boat, don’t annoy or threaten them, and use common sense.

That said, I was sunk by a gator which punctured a hole in the rear hull of my outrigger about 4 feet behind my seat. I think he did it with his head or tail when I startled him by paddling over him.

I then had to stand in water up to my chest in the middle of the gator filled lake while I tried to drain and duct tape the enclosed hull (taping the wet hull didn’t work). On top of that, I was recovering from severe back pain.

Scared stiff.

Finally, I just drained the hull and barely made it back to the put-in before it filled and sank again.

Only 30 years?!! You’re a baby, Jack!

– Last Updated: Sep-07-10 1:40 AM EST –

I grew up around gators, so add nearly twice that amount - and in the old Florida. Am one (UF graduate). I'll concede that the second pic and maybe the third, on second glance, are crocs.

But it's exactly your alligator "expertise" in posting here and cavalier (but interesting) alligator photography that inspired me to compile and post the links I came across yesterday. My intent is to offer a more comprehensive picture of alligator behavior for fellow paddlers, lest some take your cavalier approach in their midst (yeah, remember Steve Irwin).

I'm glad all your personal experience with gators is so positive, but others are not/may not be so fortunate. Personal recap: A 12-year-old peer of mine, eaten by a bull; a paddling buddy, canoe attacked and bitten; other minor encounters, not worth mentioning.

I haven't paddled around alligators since June. But I knew to get off that river as dusk was approaching.

Some of your exploits, like paddling some of the backwaters in inland Florida, I know many of the local old-timers wouldn't do. But, what do they know?

By the way, paddling five feet away from a mother gator with babies is too damn close - and a bad example to set for other paddlers! If you had taken the time to read and view the other links with advice by experts, I doubt you would have posted the link to your photo.

One thing I hope you don't find out the hard way: For all their lethargic appearance, alligators can suddenly move very, very fast! Did I say suddenly? Did I say unpredictable?


A few other points for paddlers . . .
When paddling in alligator country (added to advice given in already-posted links):

  • Be aware that the partially or totally submerged log you are approaching may not be a log at all. I know from a friend’s firsthand experience that a startled gator may bite a boat.

  • Learn to recognize the appearance of a gator in the water . . . well enough to determine direction of travel.

  • A startled gator on the bank will often make a dash for the closest water, even if you are in that path. Last year, a seven-footer barely missed my bow in his dash for the water. (Oh yeah, sometimes you won’t see them until you are on top of 'em.)

  • Another reason to learn to do a bomb-proof roll is that it could be needed while paddling in gator country. Somebody already posted in this string how creepy it feels to wet-exit in this environment.

  • Alligators typically don’t take prey by chasing. Rather, they lurk - hiding in reeds or other cover, or swim stealthily, then lunge. In the highly unlikely situation of a paddler encountering such a lunging situation, your paddle is your best weapon. A strike to the snout, eyes or ears - on more than one occasion - has been known to dissuade a gator to release a human from its grip.

  • Just because you don’t see alligators doesn’t mean they are not there. They live by stealth.

Hey - whatever !
I have seen your posts on gators before, and you are petrified of them.

My advice to you is just don’t paddle in their habitat.

But there is no need to try and find every thing sensational about them and post it here.

Jack l

On the other hand
it makes for entertaining reading :wink:

funny thing about the momma gators
Biologists doing egg counts have discovered that mom will make a lot of noise and bluster but that about it. Bulls are definitely another matter, especially where habituated to people. The smaller and lower your boat the more aggressive they get. They love the new spec ICF boats.

his attitude might be different in summe

– Last Updated: Sep-07-10 8:50 AM EST –

Jack paddles down here in winter. Maybe a little more caution would be warranted in summer. That makes a big difference. This past year was cold enough that I didn't so much as see a gator for two months at my house. Down further south they'd be stacked up in the sunny spots and couldn't really be bothered to move except when spooked enough to grudgingly dive into the cold water. My 26km trip down to High Banks and back yesterday AM was a different story. Got chased by a 12'+ beast at marker 87. Open water and I'm going 8mph and he was pushing across the water as hard as he could go trying to cut me off. It wasn't like I was even close. I was on the other side of the river passing no closer than 100m. He started to come at me as I approached when I was still probably about 400m out. Hardly anybody hunts down that way and the redneck Steve Irwin wannabe tour operators feed the damn things. I'd like to tie the tour operators' hands behind their backs and drive them down to their favorite feeding spot and toss them in to swim with the "tame" gators.

Still, I'm out with them everyday. I generally know where the big ones are hanging out. They tend to set up shop in early May and hold that territory all summer as long as the water level doesn't change much. Every now and then I have to take evasive manuvers. I learned how to empty and re-enter an ICF boat in deep water just so I could avoid what could be a potentially fatal swim to shore in a lot of the areas that I paddle if I ever fell in.

reasonable distance
I keep a reasonable distance too. But I’ve never been chased by a bear or snake. I’m not sure what he thinks I am but the big guy at marker 87 chases me regardless of whether I come close or not. He’ll come out of the spatterdock and he toward me as I approach at quite a distance such that hell be in mid river before I get to him. I went down that way for the first time since June hoping that somebody would have killed him by now but he’s still there. I’ve slowed to his pace after passing and had him follow me for about 800m before giving up. My fear is that one day he will be lieing still enough that I do not see him and get too close.