Kayaking is one of the best outdoor activities for most adrenaline-hungry adventurers, but what if you get into the water with alligators? Will they attack your kayak, or will they keep to their lane?
Alligators are not as aggressive as their crocodile cousins. You can find them in rivers, lakes, swamps, and saltwater. Fortunately, these seemingly intimidating animals like minding their business. They rarely attack kayaks and can only strike when provoked. That is because humans are usually off their menu.
Read on to understand alligators and how they can affect your kayaking experience. We will also discuss tips to stay safe from these predators in detail.
Will an Alligator Attacks You When Kayaking?
A quick response is a yes. Alligators can attack kayaks if you paddle too close to them or invade their native habitat. You increase your risk of being attacked by these reptiles if you kayak in water infested by them.
Fortunately, alligator attacks are rare, but that does not mean they will not attack your kayak. Alligators are generally docile and often disappear into the water when they see you and your kayak approaching. In many cases, they won’t mind your business and will try to stay as far away from you as possible.
Alligators often bask in the sun by the shore or river bank. They do that to regulate their body temperature. If you kayak around noon, your chances of spotting gators sunning are high. But they will slip into the water as soon as they see you.
Alligators shy away from humans. They will stay underwater until they are sure there is no danger or hazards.
But do not mistake them for their look-alike crocodiles. Crocs are more aggressive and attack kayaks more!
Can an Alligator Tip a Kayak?
Yes. Alligators are generally strong animals that can slam onto the sides of your kayak, causing it to tip over. However, the chances of your kayak getting damaged or punctured are higher than capsizing.
A true story of a man whose kayak was tipped by alligators exists. Pete Joyce met his fate while kayaking in the Waccamaw River. He remains as a testimony that gators can attack kayaks.
How Many People Are Killed By Alligators Each Year In The United States?
Deaths resulting from loss of life due to alligator attacks in the United States are not many compared to lives lost due to crocs attacks in other countries. According to a report, these reptiles kill one person per year. However, the alligator’s attacks are more. That is because even if they attack you, you have a slimmer chance of being killed.
Alligators usually go for smaller prey such as fish, birds, turtles, and deer that can be swallowed whole. But you will still feel intimidated if you face a 1,000-pound reptile that can grow up to 18 feet long.
Signs an Alligator Will Attack
Alligators are ambush predators. They sneak behind their predators and attack without warning. You may not notice when they are ready to attack your kayak. Fortunately, you have nothing to worry about because they only attack a kayak if they mistake it for prey.
But what happens if you come face to face with alligators when kayaking? They will usually slip under the water or warn you not to get any closer to them by opening their mouths and producing hissing sounds.
Don’t ignore alligator attack warnings. Turn the direction of your kayak and calmly paddle away. Alligators will not chase after you. Instead, they will resume their business, basking by the shore.
What Do You Do When Kayaking With Alligators?
Kayaking in water infested by alligators is not encouraged because the risk of being attacked is high. But what if it is the only suitable kayaking location in your area? You can still safely share this natural resource with the reptiles.
You should keep your distance from alligators as much as possible and avoid making abrupt movements that may provoke them. They can misinterpret that as an attack on them and may choose to retaliate.
Just don’t disturb the alligators. If you find them sunning by the water, try as much as possible to leave them there. Don’t paddle in their direction. Instead, calmly kayak past them to other areas without alligators.
Unfortunately, the river channel can be narrow. That will leave you with no choice but to paddle close to the alligators on the sandbar. Keep kayaking with the broadside of the kayak facing them using gentle strokes. The idea is to make them believe that you are harmless.
But if they slip underwater, don’t panic and stay alert. Continue paddling forward until you get out of the dangerous area.
If your boat is damaged and you can’t paddle, look for high ground to stand on. Don’t walk in the water because alligators may be under the surface. Stay in the high places until the help arrives.
What To Do If You Run Into an Alligator While Kayaking?
It is possible to run into alligators even where you least expect them to be. So, what do you do?
Stay calm and paddle out of the area. Just kayak away slowly without drawing much attention, and you should safely escape the danger.
Remain calm and use gentle strokes as you steadily paddle away from the alligators. Sudden movements may provoke them by thinking that they are under attack and will tend to defend their territory.
Lastly, carry an air horn if you want to explore alligator-infested water. Just blast the horn when you sight any alligator to scare it away.
But if an alligator attacks you, remember to do the following to survive:
- Don’t panic, and remain as calm as possible.
- Try to fight back and push the alligator away from you or throw a few punches at its snout. An alligator may go away if confronted.
- Get out of the water as fast as possible while calling for help. You can yell out loud to get the attention of anyone nearby to rescue you.
Tips to Stay Safe
Alligators usually camouflage or hide between objects within their environment to ambush prey. That means you will often find them near the banks, under floating logs and vegetation, near overhanging trees, and in other areas. Avoid these places to reduce your chances of being attacked.
Also, consider the following tips to stay safe from alligator attacks:
Don’t Paddle in Gator Territory
Avoid kayaking in waters infested by alligators. Like all other wildlife, these reptiles can be aggressive if you invade their natural habitat. Approaching the alligator’s breeding area can be very dangerous because they will defend it.
Do not go to swamps or ponds with lilies and other water plants floating on the water. These offer a perfect cover for alligators for hunting, and you will often find them there. You can be mistaken for the prey if you kayak in such areas.
Just stay away from gator territories as much as you possibly can.
Do Not Feed the Alligators
Don’t throw your snacks or catch at the alligators, even though it can be tempting. Leave everything to nature and let wildlife use their predatory instincts to hunt, forage, and gather what they eat.
There have been reports of alligators attacking people after they try to feed them. You may think you are gaining their trust, but how do you expect a wild animal to trust you? They will eat what you throw at them and try to eat you.
Refrain from feeding gators if you come across them when kayaking. Stay away and live to see another day!
Don’t Make Yourself Prey
Alligators are active hunters and will use any opportunity to grab their prey. Anything dangling in the water seems like an easy target. Keep your hands, feet, and anything in the kayak. Don’t use a stringer to keep your catch because alligators will come after them.
Don’t Make Gators Feel Threatened
Alligators like minding their business, and we encourage you to do the same. Don’t go close to them or make provoking movements in their water.
Keep about 15-20 feet between your kayak and your friends’ kayaks. Also, avoid paddling many kayaks toward alligators from different angles.
Don’t mistake the alligator’s docility for weakness. A threatened gator can become aggressive and hostile in a flush.
Maintain a Safe Distance
The distance between you and the closest gator should be about 20 yards if the space allows it. That’s the only way of not disturbing them and interfering with what they are doing. But if the channel is narrow, stay calm and use gentle strokes to paddle away.
Respect the alligator’s territory and stay away from their breeding and hunting grounds.
Paddling Without Your Pup
Your dog can be your best friend when going out on any adventure. However, you should leave them behind if going to kayak in the water with alligators.
Dogs have an odor that attracts alligators. There have been reports that some kayakers get attacked by gators because they have their canine friends on board. Leave your pet at home to save it and yourself.
Avoid Their Habitats During Mating Season
Alligators get more aggressive during mating seasons. You don’t want to get into the water during such times because they won’t let anything within the vicinity.
Alligators start courtships in April and spend May and June to mate. After mating, female alligators prepare nests to lay eggs. While males become docile after mating, females may still remain aggressive as they guard their nests.
Noticed Warning Sounds
Nature can be so kind sometimes. Most wild animals don’t just attack humans without warning, and we also see that in alligators. They usually open their mouths and make hissing sounds to tell you when to back off.
Other signs of an agitated alligator include the following:
- Clapping or snapping of the jaws
- Alligator approaching you
- Puffing up and down and belly getting larger
- Sinking and reappearing while coming towards you
Get Big and Loud to Scare Gators
Luckily for you, gators can be easily scared by loud noises. If you have your air horn, it is time to blow it to keep these reptiles out of your path. You can also use your paddle to slap on the water surface or make loud noises using your vocal cords.
Gator-Friendly Kayak Locations
Sometimes interacting with alligators can be the most unforgettable experience when kayaking. Fortunately, there are a few gator-friendly kayaking locations in the US where you can enjoy kayaking.
These destinations have alligators, but they are known not to attack people. You may have an adventure of your life if you go to any of the following places:
- Everglades National Park
- Congaree National Park
- Neches River
- Atchafalaya Basin Swamp
- Potano Paddling Trail
- Okefenokee Swamp
- Big Cypress National Preserve
- Wakulla River Paddling Trail
Where Can You Kayak In Florida Without Alligators?
Florida is the ultimate destination for any kayaker who wants to explore different kayaking locations. This state boasts 1.260 miles of coastline. 7,700 lakes, 1,700 rivers, and more than 700 springs. There is no doubt about unlimited kayaking adventurers in Florida.
Let’s end our discussion with a list of kayaking locations in this state without alligators.
- Ichetucknee Springs
- Madison Blue Spring
- Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- Weeki Wachee Springs
- Blackwater River
- Rainbow Springs State Park
- The Great Calusa Blueway
- Santa Fe River
- The Wilderness Trail of the Suwannee River
- The Manatee River
How to land fish in Alligator waters?
Fishing in alligator waters is very challenging because the bait and fish you use can attract the gators. When fishing in fresh waterways, avoid throwing fish heads, fishing baits, or anything into the water if you do not want these reptiles from swimming toward your boat.
Do alligators go near kayaks?
Alligators will typically stay away from kayaks. In fact, they often sip into the water when kayaks get near them. They rarely approach a kayak unless they mistake it for prey or you have something hanging from the boat that they can eat.
What to do if an alligator chases you?
The best action is getting away as fast as possible while making noise. You can also blow your air horn to scare the alligator. You can also stand on high ground and avoid walking into the water. If you are already attacked, don’t be afraid to fight back.
What to do if a gator grabs you?
Push it away and try to free yourself while making a noise. You can also try to throw a few punches at its snout, and the alligator may turn away. But they will usually not attack humans because we are not on their menu.
Alligators are usually docile reptiles that rarely attack humans. But there are reports of them attacking kayaks. So, you should not get close to them and mind your business to avoid provoking them.
But you can still enjoy a kayaking adventure in alligator-friendly waters. You should, however, stay away from their natural habitat during mating seasons and at dawn or dusk when they are actively hunting.
Thank you for reading this article at Windpaddle. We appreciate your time and believe you now know what to do when kayaking among alligators. Kindly share this post with fellow kayakers to enlighten them and help us expand our audience.