How to Survive an Alligator Attack
Of all the wild animals found in the United States, the alligator is one of the most terrifying. His scaly skin, reptile eyes and sharp teeth make him look like a real monster. The fact that they kill with a movement called the “death list” also does not relieve fear. But with a little knowledge, you may not become an alligator bait.
Alligator attacks are less common, but most of them occur in Florida, where there are about a dozen attacks every year . In fact, over 330 alligator attacks were recorded in Florida between 1948 and 2004, far more than any other state. Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana also reported attacks, but the numbers pale in comparison (the closest Texas is 15). Fortunately, very few alligator attacks are fatal . And most of the fatal attacks happen to the elderly, pets, or young children, such as the two-year-old boy tragically kidnapped at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa earlier this year.
As with most animal incidents, an alligator attack is a case of misidentification. Jim Darlington , reptile curator at St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm Zoological Park , explains that an alligator can simply splash around in muddy waters to bite and ask questions later, as they will pretty much eat whatever they can catch.
Since alligators are well-disguised ambush hunters, the key to survival is preventing an attack in the first place. When you are in areas where these reptiles live, Darlington recommends avoiding swimming at dawn or dusk, as this is when they are most active and prone to feeding. And Frank Mazzotti , an alligator expert at the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center , says recent rains will make alligators more active and more likely to meet people. Always keep a close eye on children, as their small stature is more likely to mistake them for prey.
If you meet an alligator, do not feed it. Alligators are usually afraid of people, but feeding them makes them less dangerous – it’s also illegal. If you spot one of them on land and are away from civilization, this may mean that you are invading its territory. Mazzotti recommends running as fast as possible in a straight line . They cannot run very fast, and zig-zag maneuvers actually force you to attack more. Alligators will chase people just to defend their territory and will lose interest as soon as you leave.
If you are bitten by an alligator, it will grab and try to drag you under the water to drown you. However, do not try to open his jaws, as they are too strong and will grip more. They have one of the most powerful bites on the planet. Instead, Mazzotti says that you have to fight for your life, hitting punches at it, and try your best to stay on your feet. Alligators want an easy meal, not a fight, so make it harder for them. Get in their eyes and slap them in the face. The alligator will bite and then release to adjust its grip several times during the attack, and this is your best chance to break free and leave.