No one ever imagines they’ll ever come face-to-face with an alligator.
Evidenced by recent news stories of dangerous – and sometimes deadly – alligator encounters, while rare, alligator attacks do happen.
They’re most common, of course, in the Southeastern US in states like Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida.
So, how do you defend yourself against an alligator attack? Here are a few helpful tips you might hope you never need.
The Best Defense Against Alligators is Distance
Like many wildlife dangers, the best way to avoid an alligator attack is to prevent one from happening in the first place. That means steering clear of areas clearly known to be frequented by gators, and always abiding by signs that warn of gators and other fauna. Alligator attacks are statistically most common in low light, so dusk and twilight are good times to stay away from shallow water.
Nearly all alligator attacks are “provoked” in some way. Generally, people are attacked and injured when they attempt to capture, pick up, or restrain alligators in some way; the animals may also be inadvertently provoked when their habitat is threatened by, say, a golfer attempting to wade into water to retrieve a ball. When you are in an alligator prone area such as a marsh, wetland, or pond, always be vigilant.
What to do if an Alligator Attacks
If an alligator begins charging you on land, run as fast as possible in the opposite direction. Though gators have good speed, they don’t have much endurance and will usually give up quickly if prey seems like too much work.
If an alligator attacks you in the water, act fast. Don’t waste time trying to pry the gator’s jaws open – it’s a futile effort as they’re exerting thousands of pounds of pressure per second. Instead, thrash about in the water creating as much noise and havoc as possible. Alligators do not like trouble and might be confused, even briefly, by your actions. If you often find yourself near alligator-prone areas such as golf courses or swamps, carrying a personal alarm or bear-deterring alarm is a good precaution for this specific purpose.
When possible, jam your thumb or something sharp like a tactical knife into the alligator’s eye, the most sensitive spot on its body. If all else fails, playing dead may give you a few seconds to escape as the gator maneuvers your body to get ready to swallow.
Remember, avoiding an alligator attack is all about knowledge. Know what to look for, where to be careful, and which areas to stay away from. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure!
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