Do you like paddling and going on outdoor adventures? You might find kayaking with alligators. With all human and animal interactions, we must tread a bit carefully and respect the fact that we are the ones who are entering the places where alligators live. But, one common question I often come across is, is it safe to kayak with alligators.
Kayaking with alligators can be the best way to watch them out in the natural habitat. But, paddling amongst these scary animals is safe, it needs research and some safety measures.
So, the answer to the question is yes, one can safely kayak with alligators. There are several alligator-friendly places where you can also book special tours for that. Another important thing is taking a few safety measures and not feed or tease them as that can make them really dangerous. Let us go ahead and check out their primary behavior and some warning signs.
How Do Alligators Behave?
Generally, alligators are known to be a reserved type of species. They will stay submerged for hours under the surface – with just their snout resurfacing for air – and waiting for their prey to come close. They are reclusive, some may also view them as docile.
When we talk about their diet, the adult alligators feed on snakes, fish, turtles, birds, and mammals. Besides gators are cold-blooded, hence they are highly active between dusk time. But, they do not move a lot during the daytime. Generally, they prefer to spend their daytime hanging by the shore & basking out in the sun.
When you are on the wider river, you can often see many alligators resting by the seaside. Whereas on the narrower streams, they are likely to go underwater and disappear once they recognize any kayak is approaching.
What Can You Do When Alligator Attacks?
Suppose you find an alligator approaching you, try to stay calm. There’re a few things you may do and fight it off. They’re sensitive around their eyes and snout, thus you must target this area. It is tough to reach this area of their face, particularly when they attack with their mouth. In the worst case, try to fight it out as much as possible.
Somehow if get on land, try to evade them. You likely can’t paddle away because they are pretty fast swimmers, however, you have a chance to outrun them. They are very slow on land, so you have higher control in such a situation. When you are paddling with the alligators, water is their strong territory, and they are skilled hunters too.
When Are Alligators Highly Active?
Alligators are a sit-and-wait type of predator and stay under the surface for long hours with just their snout and eyes resurfacing for air – and waiting for their prey to come close by.
Usually, alligators generally tend to be a bit reclusive; you will not find them much moving around in a daytime. Actually, as scary as the full-grown alligators might appear, when you encounter them during the daytime, they may appear lazy and docile.
Travel during nightfall, and you will see a different story in the swamps & marshes. Alligators, just like other nocturnal predators, are highly active between dusk time.
Warning Signs to Look For
When alligators are threatened, their first defense stage is going underwater. Also, their highly sensitive ears will make them alert about your presence before you even approach them, and sending them off the bank.
However, there are some instances when the alligator won’t retreat, especially when any female is protecting her nest, giving you the warning you must not ignore.
When you come very close to the alligator, usually it will face you and open its mouth to start hissing. And if such things happen, the best thing you can do is to paddle away slowly.
What to Do If Alligators Behave Aggressively?
If you are surrounded by the alligator territory, there’re a few protocols to follow and protect yourself once you get a bit agitated. Such a situation will be terrifying, however, you need to stay very calm and try to protect yourself in any case.
Creating loud noise will help to ward off any kind of aggressive behavior. But, carrying out a very loud safety whistle and air horn can startle the alligator & cause them to swim away. Suppose they are still focused over you, then hit your kayak to create vibrations. Alligators are very sensitive to vibrations underwater, and they must do a trick and help you.
Suppose you find alligators hissing at you, then this is the last warning of their attacks. It’s telling you to stay away from them. Suppose it has started to hiss already, there’s not any guarantee it can change their mind, hence it is important to create a little space.
Important Tips to Follow
Although there is a level of risk with the outing, and kayaking with alligators can be safe when you are alert. They will not attack indiscriminately, and they will hardly stay in the same area as kayakers. Still, it is very important you remember that you are the visitor and invading their territory, so you need to respect it.
To ensure you stay safe, you need to maintain a safe distance from the alligator. Another way you can keep them away is to make a loud noise. Most of the kayakers bang the paddles of their kayaks and startle them away. It is very important you do not feed or tease them or attract them with any food, as it will put them in dangerous proximity.
Alligators can be deadly to paddlers only when they like to; so do not make any mistake. An alligator that you encounter on the kayaking excursions does not want to harm you. Definitely, kayaks and alligators do not appear to be a good match. To be very frank, you will never be comfortable paddling by such predators – even while they are doing their business and resting in the sun.