Alligator vs. Human
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
In Southeast Florida there is a lot of interesting wildlife. One of the most interesting creatures would undoubtedly be the American Alligator. Common sense should dictate that these reptiles should never be disturbed, taunted or teased. Yet there are some people who lack respect or knowledge for animals in the wild. This brings me to my story.
As the sun was dropping and the sky was being painted by an array of colors there I was snapping pictures of a lovely sunset over the Everglades at a wildlife refuge. There are several boat ramps and a floating dock and it is very common to see alligators in the water or near the waters edge in this area. There were several people standing on a floating dock ramp observing an alligator in the water just hanging out near the shore. Of course the alligator was keeping a mindful eye on these observers. Make no mistake the gator was fully aware of its surroundings. I could hear the conversation of people as one gentleman was talking about recent alligator attacks. Although not as common as some might think alligator attacks do and can happen. So you would think with that conversation one might be cautious and respectful of the 8-9 foot alligator lurking in the water at dusk.
One of the older men in the group came down off the ramp and got closer to the alligator. The man proceeded to slap his legs as if he was calling a dog to him. His group just watched as he tried to call the gator to him. Before my husband and I could yell to him to stop harassing the gator, the disturbed alligator starts swimming towards the shore in a very fast motion and before we knew it the gator was on shore and heading towards the man. Make no mistake... an alligator can move pretty fast on shore and this one had one thing in mind. The man ran and the alligator stopped but the gator was clearly displeased and dangerously close to the man’s group that was rapidly getting off the ramp. So it was at this time my husband had lectured the man about respecting this animal and why this could have been disaster. The man was from out of state and knew nothing of alligators but felt he was at a safe enough distance or so he kept insisting. I guess he doesn’t know how fast a gator can move on land. One of the man’s friends mentioned that all you have to do is run in a zigzag motion. That would be a wrong statement.
Ignorance isn’t always bliss but can be dangerous. Had this animal attacked this human it would have been captured and killed for doing what instinct tells it to do. An innocent creature being taunted in its home would suffer the consequences. Imagine you are sitting in your home watching TV and a stranger comes in and starts taunting and disrespecting you. How would you feel? Luckily no one got hurt and the gator eventually made its way back in to the water but there is a lesson to be learned. It’s always best to keep a safe distance from any animal in nature and have respect for them and their habitat. Never assume you know how an animal might react to your presence. Never harass, tease, touch or harm any animal. Always assume that freshwater will have an alligator in it. Educate yourself and learn about the different animals, plants, etc. Once a person realizes what beauty there is in wildlife and all that nature has to offer, hopefully there would be a better appreciation to respect it and protect it.
Now here are some facts about alligators you just might want to know and can tell others so they too are aware and to proceed with caution when you come upon one.
GATOR FACTS 101
An alligator is faster than you think. In the water it can swim up to a speed of 20 mph. On land a bigger alligator can move at a pace of 11 to 17 mph and a smaller gator can go from 20 to 30 mph. Gators will have short bursts of higher speeds which may be just enough time for it to get its prey.
Running in a zigzag motion is a myth! Although it’s not common to be chased by an alligator on land it’s actually better to run straight in front of the gator. Its blind spot is directly in front of its nose so by running zigzag the gator can see you better and would have a better chance to catch you.
Gators have a natural fear of humans but can lose it if fed by us. NEVER feed an alligator!! Not only is it illegal but it is a recipe for disaster. Oh yeah and it’s also illegal to steal their eggs or harm or kill them as well.
Alligators can jump! Yep, not only can they jump to heights up to 6 feet out of the water but they can also climb.
Gators feed mostly at dusk and at nighttime. Always be cautious about walking near any fresh body of water during those times especially near the water’s edge. Keep your dog away too.
An alligator can swim up to 20 miles per hour. Good reason to stay out of fresh water especially when signs are posted warning about alligators being present.
Alligators mostly feed around dusk and at nighttime. Because these reptiles are cold blooded they don’t need to eat as often as we do. A full grown alligator can go a week a without eating.