“Run in a zig-zag line,” says everybody but Florida Man.
When it comes to alligator attacks, there are very few sound strategies and very many myths. For example, did you know that alligators can run faster than they can swim? Well, they can’t. Alligators can swim roughly twice as fast as they can run.
This guide will help clear up a couple of myths and replace them with sound, self-defense strategies for fending off a hungry alligator.
A Major Southern Threat
If you live in the northeast or western United States and never plan to visit any city, state, or country on the planet other than the one in which you live, then you don’t need to worry about this threat. However, for people who aren’t hermits, alligators pose a real and serious threat, particularly in Louisiana and Florida.
American Alligators can measure up to 15 feet from head to tail and weigh up to 1,000 pounds. To top it all off, their bite strength comes out to 2,125 pounds per square inch, enough to shatter even the strongest bone in the human body (the femur) in one bite.
Step 1: Keep an Eye Out for Their Territory
For the most part, alligators recognize that they are not the alpha species. They tend to steer clear of humans and our deadly machines, typically only coming into contact with us when we enter or encroach upon their territory.
By watching for swamp-like areas with murky waters, lots of algae, and thick reeds, you can keep clear of gators. American alligators habitats tend to be freshwater areas like these and are typically found in or near slow-moving rivers, marshes, and lakes.
Step 2: Run
Once an alligator has locked onto you get out of the water. Alligators can swim at roughly 20 miles per hour. Immediately start running. Alligators can run up to 11 miles per hour, though, and can still put up one mean chase, but they tend not to follow you out of their territory unless they have been starved.
If you can’t outrun the gator, you need to fight. Do not climb a tree!
Step 3: Fight for Your Life
If you’re in the water when the gator bites you, your chances of being torn apart are far greater than if you’re on land when it snaps. Either way, you have to fight back before it starts death-rolling.
Start by going for the eyes and the gator’s underside. These are the most sensitive areas of the gator. Since alligators, for the most part, prey on hapless animals, they are not used to finding prey that can protect itself. After suffering damage, they tend to pull back unless they’re protecting something. Either way, move back to step two.
Alligator attacks have been sensationalized time and time again by opportunistic media outlets. However, as any Floridian can tell you, you don’t need to be worried about surviving an alligator attack. Just don’t go into any sketchy ponds, know when to run, and go for the eyes and you should be generally safe.