John Quincy Adams and Herbert Hoover kept alligators at the White House but that doesn’t mean they’re safe to have around. Alligators live in freshwater wetlands, according to Wired. They’re concentrated in the Southern United States, especially Florida. And from time to time, they’ve attacked humans. Discover how to protect yourself during an attack so you can say “see you later alligator.”
Know when alligators are most active
- Fun fact: “People must be especially vigilant during nesting season, in June and July,” according to ABC News.
Alligators become more active after rainfall and therefore, more likely to have encounters with people, Frank Mazzotti, an alligator expert at the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, told Life Hacker.
Hint: Don’t make this mistake when swimming.
Avoid swimming at these times
- Fun fact: Alligators use what’s called the “death roll” to capture and eat prey, according to How Stuff Works. They continually roll over to drown their prey.
Alligators hunt for food at dawn and dusk, Jim Darlington, curator of reptiles at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida, told CBS News. For that reason, don’t swim at those times. If you have to go for a dip at dusk, stick to a pool.
Hint: Don’t believe this myth about running from a gator.
Run…in a straight line
- Fun fact: Most alligator attacks happen in Florida, where there are approximately 12 attacks annually, according to Life Hacker.
“Zig-zag maneuvers actually expose you to attack more,” Mazzotti told Life Hacker. So, don’t think you have to run in a zig-zag pattern to outrun an alligator. They’re fastest in the water. “Alligators will only chase humans to defend their territory and will lose interest as soon as you leave.”
Hint: This could save your life during an alligator attack.
Gouge the eyes
- Fun fact: “An alligator can go through over 2,000 teeth in its lifetime,” according to Wired.
“Try to poke your fingers in their eyes,” Ron Magill, a wildlife expert and communications director at Zoo Miami, said on “Good Morning America” according to ABC News. The goal here is to get to alligator to release his bite for a moment so you can break free.
Hint: This simple thing can help you avoid an alligator attack.
- Fun fact: Alligators eat “fruit such as wild grapes, elderberries, and citrus fruits directly from trees,” according to Wired.
Similar to whistling while hiking to avoid bears, Darlington suggests making lots of noise if you may be near an alligator or even during an attack. “If there’s a lot of human activity, gators like to stay offshore and stay away,” he told CBS News. And, alligators want an easy kill. So, make as much noise as possible to show the alligator it will be a difficult kill, and they may give up.
Hint: In a fight with an alligator? Focus on this one maneuver.
Put up a fight
- Fun fact: “Courtship rituals include head-slapping on the water’s surface, snout and back rubbing, and blowing bubbles,” according to Wired.
Darlington also told CBS News if you put up enough of a fight, the alligator will probably retreat. “Your size is what saves you from these things,” he said. “They don’t like people.” During an attack, keep on your feet — although it will be a struggle — Mazzotti told Life Hacker.
Hint: This strategy is risky but may save your life during an attack.
- Fun fact: “In the Pacific Islands, alligator teeth were worn as necklaces to protect the wearer from illness,” according to One Kind Planet.
The opposite — albeit risky — approach is to play dead. The reason being alligators release dead prey when they’re about to swallow it, according to How Stuff Works. This approach should be used as a last-ditch effort.
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