3 Ways to Avoid an Alligator Attack - wikiHow (2024)

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1Understanding the Habits of Alligators

2Staying Safe When Living Near Alligators

3Surviving Alligator Encounters

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Last Updated: July 5, 2024References

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Alligator attacks are very rare, but they do happen, so it’s important to keep safety at the front of your mind when you’re in alligator country. To ensure you, your child, or your pet avoid such a traumatizing, life or limb-threatening event, it’s important to be educated about alligator habits and habitats, avoid dangerous areas, and learn to deal with an aggressive alligator.

Method 1

Method 1 of 3:

Understanding the Habits of Alligators

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  1. 1

    Stay away from alligators. It may seem obvious, but the easiest way to avoid an alligator attack is to avoid these territorial predators. Alligators will often stand their ground when on land. They don’t flee like other animals, so as soon as you see an alligator, move away from them. Alligators are unlikely to attack unless you get too close to their nest or corner them, so leave at least 15 feet between you and the alligator. If it shows aggression, move further away or find a safe place in a house or car. Alligators are very adept climbers, so getting to higher ground may make it easier for you to watch the alligator, but it does not mean they won’t be able to reach you.

  2. 2

    Move away from aggressive alligators. Warning signs of aggression include hissing, opening the mouth, and moving their heads or bodies towards you. Move away from these alligators immediately. Another less obvious sign of aggression is not retreating into the water as you approach. If an alligator is partially in water, they will typically move back into the water where they feel more comfortable when humans approach. If they don’t do this, they may have a nest near by, see you as a food source, or perceive you as a threat.

    • Alligators are surprisingly fast. If they don’t move away from you or they otherwise show aggression, be proactive and get to a safe place as quickly as possible.


  3. 3

    Be aware of feeding habits. Alligators tend to get hungry and active between dusk and dawn. Alligators are "opportunistic feeders." This means they eat anything in sight, including other alligators. Your best safety measure is to always be aware of your surroundings when alligators could be present, but this is most important at nighttime, when alligators are hunting. Do not go into water where alligators are known to habitat during the night, especially if you’re alone.

    • Most alligator attacks happen when people are in the water and are unable to see clearly or are not alert to their surroundings. Never swim when alligators are hunting, and always swim in pairs. This way, one person can keep watch for alligator activity.[1]
  4. 4

    Don't feed the alligators. This can cause an alligator to lose its fear of people, which means that the next snack you feed the gator might be yourself. Feeding alligators also endangers unsuspecting people who may get attacked by an alligator who associates people with food. Feeding an alligator is against the law, and it could lead to a fine or even jail time. Additionally, it is a death sentence for the animal. Officials will need to "harvest" an un-intimidated alligator immediately.

    • Feeding alligators makes them harder to find because sated gators, those no longer in need of food, are able to dedicate more of their energy to finding adequate habitation and coverage.
    • You should also avoid throwing scraps into the water. You may not be intentionally feeding alligators, but if they learn that there will be food in a specific spot, they’ll begin to spend more time there.[2]
  5. 5

    Leave alligators where they are. People often get injured attempting to move alligators out of the road. This is never a good idea. Leading the alligator with food, honking, or throwing objects at the alligator is just as likely to trigger an attack as it is to achieve a cleared road. Drive around the alligator whenever possible, or wait the alligator out.[3]

  6. 6

    Avoid touching alligator nests. You may not realize right away that you’re looking at an alligator nest, but if you see large piles of sticks and grass along the waterline with eggs or small alligators, four feet or shorter, it’s likely the mother is nearby. Approaching, touching, or otherwise tampering with an alligator nest is one of the easiest ways to trigger an attack.[4]

  7. 7

    Remember that alligators are not pets. These deadly predators were not intended to be domesticated. While they’re beautiful and majestic creatures, they are unlikely to be tamed despite the best training efforts. Even if a so called domesticated alligator never harms its owner, they are much more likely to harm other humans, since they have developed the expectation that humans will bring them food. It is also important to remember that it’s illegal to keep alligators as pets.[5]

  8. 8

    Avoid cornering alligators. They are more likely to attack if they feel threatened. Because they are territorial, alligators feel threatened when trapped where they don’t feel they can defend their habitat or their young. If you inadvertently corner a gator, move away quickly.[6]

  9. 9

    Educate yourself on common alligator behaviors. The greater your understanding of typical alligator habits, the more likely you are to notice when something is wrong. Male alligators prefer open waters such as canals and ponds while female alligators dwell in marshy areas to protect their young. If you see alligators outside of these areas, something may be amiss.

    • The majority of alligator attacks occur during breeding season, which is typically between March and July. During this time, they are out more often, and the males especially are more aggressive. Females who are nesting will also show increased aggression.
    • Alligators are territorial. They attack other alligators who invade their territory, and they will not hesitate to display aggressive behaviors towards people who enter their territory at any time of the year.
    • Alligators are nocturnal, so if you see one out in the open during the day, they are likely lost, scared, and confused. Get away from them quickly, and contact wildlife agencies like the Department of Natural Resources or Wildlife Department to alert them of the alligator’s presence.[7]
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Method 2

Method 2 of 3:

Staying Safe When Living Near Alligators

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  1. 1

    Fence your property. This might not keep an alligator out, but it will slow them down and keep kids and pets in. If you live in an area that alligators commonly inhabit, especially if there’s a water source on your property, fencing is a great way to keep your home safe from alligators. Additionally, fences tend to deter other alligator food sources like deer and wild hogs that may live in the area, making your property much less appealing to alligators.

  2. 2

    Map out areas where alligators are often sighted. If you share outdoor space with alligators, it’s important to keep track of where they are most often spotted. You can use a city or county map to mark places where you frequently see them, or ask your local Department of Natural Resources or Wildlife Department for information about the local areas where alligators are nesting or hunting.

    • You will mostly find alligators in fresh inland waters, but a small percentage can be found in salt water, too.
    • Alligators prefer murky water, water with growing vegetation, and marshy areas.[8]
  3. 3

    Let others know if there’s an alligator in the area. If you have a neighborhood watch or homeowner’s association, contact whoever runs the organization to alert those who live in the area. If you spotted the alligator in a park, notify whatever community or governmental agency maintains the grounds. If you’re unsure who to contact, call the police or animal services department.[9]

  4. 4

    Swim in designated areas only. If you can't resist swimming in local canals or ponds where alligators are frequently found, do not enter the water or be anywhere near it between dusk and dawn, and never swim in undesignated areas. Also, avoid swimming in obstructed water, dark or brackish water, or water with growing vegetation, as you are less likely to spot alligators in these areas. Additionally, it’s a good idea to swim in pairs, and have one person looking out for alligator activity at all times.[10]

  5. 5

    Walk or jog away from the water's edge. If you see signs that say there are alligators in a certain lake, river, or pond be very careful when walking there. While most alligator filled lakes are fenced, not all of them are. Take special care to keep children and dogs at a very safe distance as they are the perfect meal-sized portion for a hungry alligator. Always stay at least ten feet from the water. Preferably, run only on designated paths. Never run at nighttime near bodies of water that may be inhabited by alligators.

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Method 3

Method 3 of 3:

Surviving Alligator Encounters

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  1. 1

    Run directly away from an alligator. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to get away from an aggressive alligator or you’re being chased by an alligator, run away from it at a 45-degree angle. This way, the alligator would have to make a conscious decision to move its thousand-pound body in another direction, which is no easy task, in order to continue chasing you.

    • It is commonly believed that you should run in a zig-zag motion to escape the alligator’s field of vision. This tactic allows the alligator to keep you in view, if only intermittently, and continue the hunt.
  2. 2

    Poke them in the eye. If an alligator clamps down on you, a loved one, or a pet, you may be able to make them release their clutch by poking them in the eye. This should only be done if there’s no way to avoid the attack. In most cases, alligators who have clamped down will not release their prey, but this tactic has been shown to be effective.[11]

  3. 3

    Thrash around. Alligators prefer small, easy to manage food sources, so lots of movement will discourage them from continuing their efforts. Swing your limbs, wriggle your body, and keep moving until they move on. The harder you fight the less interested the alligator will become.[12]

  4. 4

    Make a lot of noise. Like the thrashing movements, loud sounds also discourage alligators from continuing their attacks. Noises may attract other alligators who will compete for their meal, so alligators will likely seek a less noisy food source. Additionally, this will likely attract the attention of others who can help you or call for assistance from others.[13]

  5. 5

    Seek treatment immediately. If an alligator injures you, always seek treatment from a professional. Even if you don’t think the injury was severe, a serious infection can develop if alligator bites are left untreated. In most cases, you’ll need to complete a course of antibiotics, and you will likely need stitches.

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  • Question

    We have lots of gators in the woods surrounding our home in Kissimmee, FL. We can hear them all night long mating. Should we be worried?

    3 Ways to Avoid an Alligator Attack - wikiHow (25)

    Community Answer

    As long as you know where they are located, and don't decide to go trudging off in their direction, you should be fine. But depending on how close they are to your home, you might want to call out an expert to see about fences and gates to protect you and your family from unwanted visitors.

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  • Question

    Is it safe to swim in the designated areas of Florida natural spring parks?

    3 Ways to Avoid an Alligator Attack - wikiHow (26)


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    It is possible to find an alligator in or around any body of water in Florida, including natural springs. However, most of the time, an alligator will leave you alone as long as you leave it alone. You will be less likely to encounter an alligator if you attend parks that are busier with more other people around, and if you do encounter a gator, you can talk to a park attendant about how to safely avoid the animal. Remember, in spring they tend to be more aggressive and you should give them even more space.

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  • Question

    What should I do if I don't know whether or not a lake in Florida has alligators?

    3 Ways to Avoid an Alligator Attack - wikiHow (27)

    Community Answer

    Always assume a lake in Florida has alligators if you're not sure - most of them do, and it's better to be safe than sorry.

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      • Never sneak up on an alligator! Alligators can’t see very well, so they will definitely view you as a threat.


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      About This Article

      3 Ways to Avoid an Alligator Attack - wikiHow (42)

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      wikiHow Staff

      wikiHow Staff Writer

      This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff. Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 77,040 times.

      35 votes - 93%

      Co-authors: 17

      Updated: July 5, 2024


      Categories: Wildlife | Animal and Insect Safety

      Article SummaryX

      To avoid an alligator attack, never approach or feed an alligator, and leave the area immediately if you see one since an alligator won't always flee like other wild animals. You should also avoid going into water where alligators are known to live, especially between dusk and dawn since that's when alligators hunt. Also, always stay at least 10 feet away from a body of water with alligators in it in case they're waiting for food by the shore. For tips on how to survive an alligator attack, scroll down!

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