If you know a trick or two and you get a head start – you can certainly outrun an alligator. If you are in the water or run in a shallow zig-zag – no chance!
Is It True: Can You Outrun An Alligator?
Alligators have a superpower – and it isn’t running. An alligator can burst out of the water at frightening speeds and pull down any animal – including lions, giraffes, and elephants. However – they can’t change direction when running – or run very far.
On a straight run – alligators can clock up speeds that are around double the speed of the average human sprinter. Usually, being chased by an alligator comes as a surprise so it isn’t looking good for the unsavvy wildlife watcher.
Even the fastest man over 100m would lose a head-to-head. Luckily though, they aren’t in it for the distance – and the further you get away from them the more likely they are to give up chasing – so run, run, run!
All land-based reptiles have a strange way of moving because their legs are on the sides of their bodies – not underneath them like with mammals. Mammals swing their legs to run and can swing them left and right to change direction fast. Reptiles can’t do this. They run by swinging their BODY from side to side which swings their legs forwards in opposite pairs. They are swinging their body left and right just to go straight forward.
Therefore – if an alligator starts chasing you and you can’t see a straight run to freedom – swing a sharp left. They can’t immediately follow you. Alligators run using their back muscles – so turning sharp left or right is virtually impossible. They flex their back almost full swing just to stay running forwards. Ergo, running in a large zig-zag or around buildings/cars is usually enough to shake them off.
How Fast Can Alligators Run?
If they were to stick at it (i.e. you were on their territory and had really made them mad) – then they can top 56km/h (35mph) for a short burst. Usain Bolt reached 45km/h (28mph) in prime condition (having warmed up in advance) wearing special clothing on a wind-free day on flat tarmac with spikes in his ergonomic sneakers. Most tourists would be the complete opposite of that.
A majority of alligator attacks are because they see people as a threat right where they are standing – so running off as fast as you can (even if that is only 20km/h (12mph)) is better than nothing. The sooner you leave – the further away you will be – and a straight line will get your further away faster.
And don’t think that alligators are only in the water – and you are safe on land. Mother alligators will fiercely protect their nests and youngsters – so avoid riverbanks during their nesting season (May-July). In fact, the most likely attack on land will be from a female who is already out of the water staying within earshot of her eggs.
Do Alligators Attack Humans?
Very rarely would an alligator attack a human – although attacks are very serious and can be fatal. Almost always, an alligator attack is in defense of a nest (see above) or because of confusion in murky water. There are reports of children being accidentally targeted while wandering around close to rivers in the dark. The local government advises strongly against either of these situations.
Alligators do a fair amount of their hunting out of the water – ambushing small prey at night as it scuttles along trails and roadsides. Sometimes their reactions are so fast that they mistake people for their usual prey. They generally only eat small prey – like frogs, birds, coypu/nutria, fish, and raccoons – so a human is too much of a mouthful for even the most eager alligator.
Do Alligators/ Crocodiles Fart/Pass Gas?
Alligators and crocodiles pass gas, just like many other animals. However, their flatulence is not as well-studied or widely known. These reptiles have specialized digestive systems, so it’s safe to assume that they do fart. Nonetheless, the exact frequency or distinct characteristics of their gas emissions remain a mystery.
Can Alligators Climb Trees?
Up a tree isn’t always safe either. Although young alligators often climb trees – an adult alligator (of a size capable of attacking a human) can’t get very far up a tree if you choose to hide up one. They just don’t have the upper body strength for that. However, they can leap a full body length straight up out of the water to catch prey sitting on overhanging branches.
Many animals won’t come to the water’s edge to drink due to predation by a number of land predators. Drinking with your face down in the water is a very vulnerable position to be in – so some animals like possums, monkeys, and large birds find an overhanging branch further out in the water to avoid such conflict.
The alligators are fine with this – and will simply leap up to grab them – whatever they are.