If you are a runner and are a native to gator territory, you have almost definitely heard that humans can outrun a gator, or that there is a specific technique to outrunning the giant lizard. But what truth is there to these myths?
How likely are you to bump into one of these scaly menaces when you are out on a jog? And what should you actually do if you find yourself being pursued by an alligator or crocodile?
Learn all of this and more by reading this informative article.
What Is An Alligator, And Where Might You Run Into One?
An alligator is a large reptilian animal with long legs, a body covered in thick skin, sharp teeth, and a tail. It has been around for hundreds of millions of years.
It first appeared during the Cambrian period – alongside other dinosaurs that have since died out.
Alligators are found throughout North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and parts of Central America.
They live in swamps, rivers, lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water.
There are a number of states where you are likely to run into an alligator – Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri.
How Fast Can Alligators run?
Alligators are capable of running at speeds up to 20 mph (32 km/h). This speed is not as fast as some mammals, but they are able to keep up with most other animals.
A typical alligator will be able to reach its top speed over only a very short distance because of the way that it runs.
When an alligator runs at full speed, it uses its hind legs to push off from the ground, which allows them to move forward quickly – like an Olympic swimmer pushing off of the wall when swimming lengths.
The front legs then brace themselves against the sides of their body, preventing them from moving backwards.
This is why alligators are so slow when they start running – they need time to get used to using their hind legs to propel.
But once they have provided this string boost, they can go really fast over short distances.
How Fast Can Alligators Swim?
Alligators are not very fast moving animals, but they are capable of swimming at speeds up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).
Their speed comes from their ability to move through the water quickly, using their powerful tails as propellers.
When swimming, alligators use their claws to propel themselves forward.
Alligators can also jump high into the air, which allows them to catch prey such as frogs and birds. When they are in water, they can leap up to five feet to snatch birds out of the air, or mammals from low-hanging branches.
Because of their size, however, they rarely jump when they are on land – they typically do this in water.
This means that when you are going for a jog on land, you should be safe from a jumping alligator attack.
Are Alligators Dangerous To People?
Alligators are not aggressive animals; they tend to be shy and will usually retreat if approached by humans. However, they can become very dangerous if provoked.
If you see an alligator in your path while you are jogging, it may be best to avoid it.
If you must pass near an alligator, try to stay away from its head and tail. The alligator’s tail is used to strike predators that get too close, so staying away from the tail helps prevent injury.
If you do come across an alligator, remember that it is much bigger than you are – you could easily get injured trying to fight back against it.
You should also be careful about getting between an alligator and its food source, such as fish or turtles.
In fact, alligators are responsible for over 100 deaths every year in the United States alone. Most of those fatalities involve children who fall into the water while playing near the shoreline.
However, alligators are also responsible for numerous attacks on adults.
Can A Human Outrun An Alligator?
The answer depends on what kind of alligator you’re talking about. An adult male gator can sprint at speeds up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h), but it is unlikely that he would ever attempt to chase down a person.
Alligators are ambush hunters, so they prefer to wait until something comes within range before attacking. They are also territorial, so they will rarely leave their home territory unless they feel threatened.
Chasing down prey just isn’t how crocodiles hunt, or how they defend their territory.
In a contrived foot race, an alligator won’t be able to keep up with a human from more than a few body lengths (about 65 to 100 feet).
Although the alligator’s top speed (20 mph / 32 kmph) is faster than the top speed of humans (10 to 15 mph/ 16 to 24 kmph), they just don’t have the stamina to keep up with us over any kind of distance.
What Should You Do If You Encounter An Alligator?
If you find yourself in an alligator encounter, there are some things you can do to help yourself:
Do not panic! Alligators are generally shy creatures, and will usually retreat if you approach them calmly. Do not make any sudden movements or shout loudly.
Instead, slowly walk away from or around the animal until it notices you, and then continue walking at a normal pace.
Try to remain calm. Even though an alligator might appear scary, it probably doesn’t want to hurt you. It is likely to retreat if you show fear.
Stay away from the tail. Alligators use their tails to fend off predators, so being too close to the end of one could result in serious injury.
Avoid any alligator encounters to be on the safe side. Make sure that you stay clear of the alligator’s habitat, and don’t feed it.
If you need to cross an area where an alligator lives, do so only when absolutely necessary.
In conclusion, no, a human cannot outrun an alligator over short distances, but the gait of an alligator is not suited to running across any kind of distance, so you would be able to outrun one over distance!
But don’t let a fear of alligators stop you from enjoying the outdoors.
Just take precautions to ensure that you aren’t putting yourself in danger, and never approach an alligator, as they can react territorially.