How to Wrestle Free from an Alligator


Hug it.

If the alligator gets you in its jaws, you must prevent it from shaking you or from rolling over—these instinctual actions cause severe tissue damage. If you are on land (or even in water, though it may be more difficult), try to wrap the body parts not being held around the alligator, as if you are giving it a hug.  This will make it more difficult for the alligator to shake or twist. (It will also make it more difficult for the animal to swim or carry you away.) This maneuver may also convince the alligator that its chosen prey is larger than first thought, and encourage it to give up.


The alligator will be more likely to give up during an attack if it feels it has underestimated the nature of its prey. Struggling will convince it that you are not defenseless.

Hit the snout.

If the alligator still has not given up, use any weapon you have, or your fists. Alligators are well adapted to taking down large, strong animals, and are covered with armor-like scaled skin. The eyes and nose are the only soft tissue areas that are vulnerable to attack.

Keep fighting.

You may notice the alligator sink its eyes down into its head in order to protect them. Jab harder, and add punches and slaps to the eye areas.

Seek medical attention immediately.

Get medical attention right away, even for a small cut or bruise, to treat infection. Alligators have a huge number of pathogens in their mouths.


While deaths in the United States from alligator attacks are rare, there are potentially thousands of attacks and hundreds of fatalities from Nile crocodiles in Africa and saltwater crocodiles in Asia and Australia. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not swim or wade in areas alligators are known to inhabit (in Florida, this can be anywhere there is fresh or even brackish water). This includes artificial water features on golf courses and water retention ponds in suburban subdivisions.

  • Do not swim or wade alone, and always check out the area before venturing in.

  • Do not walk dogs close to fresh water in southern states where alligators are present: dogs have no natural understanding of alligators and may not be wary like a cat.

  • Do not harass, try to touch, or capture any alligator.

  • Do not dangle arms and legs from boats, and avoid throwing unused bait or fish from a boat or dock, particularly at dawn or nighttime, when alligators feed.

  • Leave the alligator babies and eggs alone. Any adult alligator will respond to a distress call from any youngster.

  • Mother alligators guarding nests and babies will defend them vigorously.

  • Never feed alligators. In most cases of attack, the alligators had been fed by humans prior to the attack. This is an important link—feeding alligators seems to cause them to lose their fear of humans and become more aggressive. Feeding alligators is also illegal in Florida and other states.

Tooth and ClawWCS Staff