Alligators and kayaks

I just discovered Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge today - and I’ve been living 12 miles from it for 13 years (sheesh).

I paddled around for about an hour and a half when I started thinking about gators and the next thing ya know, every branch and bubble in the water looked like a gator. Not that it stopped me but it was enough to keep me from going very deep into the 'Glades (I was alone).

Anyone here have experience with kayaking and gators? I want to know what the actual dangers are.

There have only been about 250 gator attacks since 1948 (25 fatalities, almost all swimmers) so I can’t see them being much of a danger to me provided I don’t grab them or dangle kittens over the side of the kayak.

/I probably paddled past ten of 'em and just didn’t see 'em.

Surprised you didn’t see any

– Last Updated: Jan-15-06 11:51 PM EST –

Must be the cool weather this weekend. Lot's of them when I was there walking around. At least half a dozen 5-8 footers right where they (3 years ago) kept the rental boats. I haven't paddled the trails myself. Usually to stick to salt water.

Gators won't bother you. Be extra cautious when mating season rolls around though as the males get pretty hopped up.

Different entrance
I went in the entrance at the end of Lox road. The rentals and such are at the main entrance up farther North…I’m headed there tomorrow.

Thanks for the info.

I’ll be darned…
Since I had no idea when gator mating season is I typed it into Google and the 4th result was titled “Alligator and Kayaks.” Thanks!

hear this, comments please

– Last Updated: Jan-16-06 3:09 AM EST –

that a gator will not attack willfully and without provacation anything it percieves to be bigger than he/she with the exception of protecing young or during the rut...this being said in the Okefenokee we paddled by too may gators to count, each seemingly oblivious to our presence, only one juvenile coming my way out of curiosity and he dived when i turned the kayak directly toward him.
we've spooked (unintentionally) many gators into the water off their banks, but never have i felt threatened by a gator while in a kayak

Each of the last two years

– Last Updated: Jan-16-06 3:58 AM EST –

we walked the Loxahatchee Natl Wildlife Refuge (amazing place) and paddled the Loxahatchee River (beginning at Indiantown Road west of the Turnpike). We saw many gators and never felt threatened. But then again, we're from the Chicago area and they know better. Seriously- if there were a major risk, I can't imagine the Wildlife Refuge would be so available (and popular) to the public as are the canoe and kayak rentals.

bruce beautiful pics!!!
is the loxahatchie the place where the ‘wild man lived’ ??? we paddled there 3 years ago and was bowled over by the beauty of this river…in 22 yearly trips to Florida I’ve paddle most of the rivers but for some reason I never did anything in the northeast corner, that’s my target next month.

Ifg gators were dangerous…
I wouldn’t be here now.

It’s those little three footers that snap like hell when your got a tight grip on their tale.



The Loxahatchie has hardly any
gators compared to the Myakka.Take a trip to the other coast and check them out.

Especially …
…in the Lower and Scenic part on the outfall of that lower lake.

They lie side by side on the banks just about touching each other.

I have paddled all over Florida for the past thirty years and there are more and bigger ones there than any place I have ever been to.

Although the largest one that I have ever seen was on Juniper Spring run about ten years ago.

By the “nostril to eyeball count” is was fifteen feet, and it was the only gray alligator that I have ever seen.



Thanks Medicineman
Someone posted a few weeks that there was a trapper’s cabin nearby on the river. I don’t know if that was the “wild man” you had heard about.

At the aquarium where I work we just got some new baby gators, and decided to name them after national wildlife refuges where gators can be found. One of them got named Loxahatchee. But to me it’s been just a name, not a real place. It’s funny to read about someone kayaking there and seeing alligators.

By the “nostril to eyeball count” is was fifteen feet, and it was the only gray alligator that I have ever seen.

I would love to see a big alligator in the wild, of any color. I’m not sure what the natural range is though they had an albino one up here last summer. I also wonder if it was possible you saw a rare American crocodile (like this guy:, though they usually aren’t seen that far north.

I paddle many Creeks around north Fla. and I see gators just about eveywhere…The only time I was Urged to move away from one was in Guana Lake when a HUGE male was courting a huni on the shore and I was between them. He swam parallel to me for a while then made a turn, I politely Yeilded the rite of way. I do not Feed or tease the Gators

But I will try to get as close as possible before they Spook. They are Beautiful creatures but I would say that the Different Spiders that Jump into the boat are a Greater threat…EEEEKKKK…


American Crocs
Not so shy or limited to remote areas anymore it seems!

From the Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) eNewsletter, Oct 21, 2005:


A visiting crocodile was recently spotted in the Port. The Florida Wildlife Commission reports that the population of crocs is on the increase and their numbers are growing as they appear to be migrating from both Florida Bay and the Keys, northward. This animal is an endangered species and FWC does not deem it a threat to people while within the waters of the Port. Do not feed this animal nor harass it. We are trying to keep track of the crocodile’s location, so if you spot our newest visitor, please call Port Everglades Department Marine Biologist Allan Sosnow at 954-468-0158.”

I’m not sure I’d say “visiting”, as there have bee reports of a pair in the park just South of the Port for years.

Gators in SC
We probably don’t have as many as Florida, but we do have a few. And believe it or not, the majority are scared of kayaks and will flee if approached too closely. What freaks me out is when I’m paddling close to the marsh grass (to stay out of the jetskiers’ way) and I scare an unseen basking gator who rushes to the safety of the water right underneath me.

Having said that, I’d rather paddle in a swamp full of gators than a lake full of drunken bass boaters.

Oh, yeah…
…I used to load my canoe up with camping equipment and camp all over swamps in Al, Ms, and La.

I’ve waked up with many a 'gator at the camp site.

Only once did I have one challenge me, and a .357 round 1 foot in front of his nose scared

him off.

In the water, they seem to be more curious, but I’d be cautious about jabbing at them with a paddle.

if the truth be known, the cottonmouths are far

more of a danger than the gators and the ticks (rocky Mountain spotted fever, lyme disease)

and the skeeters (encephilitis) are far more dangerous than any of them.

Keep you hand in the boat, becareful what you do

with your food, and use commonsense.

And take a camera.

Loxahatchee paddling
I used to live next door to Loxahatchee as a teen-ager and paddled away my misspent youth in and around the area. While I cannot guarantee that you will not be eaten alive by an alligator I would call it an unlikely senario. Alligators are wild creatures and should be respected as such but they do not perceive paddlers as food or threat. I used to get frustrated by all the misinformation I would hear concerning alligators.

Give the larger alligators (over seven feet long) greater berth. Even with my substantial experience with the creatures, the big ones would scare me a bit (9-12 feet long when I paddled the area in the late seventies. David

No this definately had…
the gator snout, and the crocs are much smaller, and only hang around the brackish salt marsh areas of So Florida and the Everglades.

This was up in the springs area.

When I was a kid growing up in Boston, I was always an amateur herpetologist, and one of my ambitions was to explore the Everglades.

I attained that ambition about thirty years ago, and to this day I never get tired of paddling there.



I too am afraid of gators
but I have been paddling the E Glades for years without incident. Last weekend was out in fisheating creek on a canoe trip. There were so many alligators I just thought I was in a horror movie! They just slipped in the water when they saw my canoe coming and were more scared of me than I was of them. The next day a bike ride in Shark Valley…everywhere we peddled a gator alongside the road. They were not even bothered and kept on sleeping.

So here is the deal…don’t corner them, harrass them or be around them in mating season. Other than that, they are pretty much scared of you too. BTW: I feel better paddling my solo canoe around them (the gator evader) than my kayak…just in case :slight_smile: And the Loxahatchee is one of my favorite rivers to paddle in florida.

Hi Doug,

I paddle the refuge 3 times per week throughout the year. Lately there have been few gators up due to the cold weather and low hormone levels(gators that is). During nesting/courting they are more frisky and plentiful from April through June. Never had a serious encounter although about a month ago we had a 5 to 8 year old bump our tandem vigorously than bare teeth at my wife in her kayak. Probable infants in nest nearby.

This time of year its pretty tame for gators and the birds are plentiful at dawn. Lots of snail kites at the start of the trail. The refuge has become one of my favorite spots. I certainly love the Lox river, but its a bit overused.