Is It Safe To Kayak With Alligators?

Kayak with Alligators

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 9/29/2022

Understandably, some of our clients may feel uneasy with animals that are often calm. They resemble the well-known saltwater crocodiles that live in Africa and Australia in many ways, including their fangs and aggressive appearance. Even though we would love to take you on a kayak trip with alligators, this post does not encourage you to kayak with alligators. Its primary purpose is to educate members of the general public about kayaking in areas where alligators are present. Please do not delay making a reservation for one of our kayak trips if you are interested in participating in one of our outings.

The most significant distinction between the American alligator and the Nile crocodile is seen in the food each species consumes. We have all seen that insane footage of wildebeest making its way across rivers in Africa plagued with crocodiles. Nile Crocodiles often consume creatures that are twice as huge as a fully grown adult human being terms of size. Now that we have that out of the way let's talk about the diet of the American alligator. Fish, snakes, turtles, birds, and even small animals and birds make up the typical diet of an adult alligator's prey. You've probably noticed that I said "little animal," right? It is more likely to be a raccoon than a zebra that an alligator would consume a small animal here in our region since raccoons are more common.

Another way of putting it is, what am I trying to say here?

An alligator does not consider a person a food source, except for one crucial and infuriating circumstance: if people are feeding an alligator. If anything like this begins to occur, then the answer to your question is "yes," alligators may be hazardous to kayakers. Alligators must never be fed at any time for various reasons, including the fact that they are not meant for human consumption, which is one of the reasons.

Who is it that gives food to a wild alligator? A fisherman is the most typical resident in this part of the world. A common practice among fishermen is to clean their catch of the day at the community boat launch, after which they will release the garbage into the sea. When an alligator recognizes humans as a potential food source, the animal's behavior might change and become more violent. Despite this, it is important to keep in mind that an alligator does not consider you to be a prey; nonetheless, they may link you with a meal.

What Should One Do If They Find Themselves Kayaking With Alligators?

Although alligators are often considered tame, the vast majority do not wish to interact with humans in any way. We often kayak in the same areas as alligators, and sometimes we have to paddle by them when they are basking in the sun on a beach or sandbar. We do everything in our power not to spook them, and we've discovered that the most effective method to stop them from swimming away is to keep your kayak pointed away from them and to paddle in a manner that is as smooth and unhurried as possible. A paddle that moves erratically or quickly seems to frighten alligators. If we consider these recommendations, we may sometimes get within 10 yards of a ten-footer, but

If you point directly at it, he may go into the water even if you are not even thirty yards away from him.

Alligators Are Sluggish

They have three basic needs: to feed, reproduce, and keep their body temperature normal. Alligators, in contrast to us, are cold-blooded, which means they cannot control the temperature of their bodies as we can. How can an alligator maintain body temperature if it cannot prevent it from the inside? When the temperature of the sandbar is higher than that of the water, alligators will leave the water to sun themselves on the sandbar. They will just float in the water if the temperature is higher than the temperature of the air. This often occurs during the early morning and midnight hours when the air temperature is still a little on the cool side. If you come across an alligator sunning itself on land rather than in the water, know that it is doing so out of compulsion rather than choice. If the water were a more comfortable temperature, the alligator would much rather be there.

You're familiar with the expression "fish out of the water," right? You might just as well say alligator out of the water, except that an alligator can breathe fine even when not submerged in water. If you come across an alligator sunning itself on a sandbar, it is best to avoid pointing your kayak directly at the animal and instead make sure the broad side of your boat is facing it as you paddle by. Sometimes there is not enough space in a stream or other river for us to avoid accidentally pushing the alligator into the water, and not a huge deal if it occurs. Just keep kayaking and be cautious.

What Should You Do If You Are Kayaking And See An Alligator While Out On The Lake?

Most of the time, nothing at all. On any given day, if the temperature is just perfect, we may encounter anywhere from three to fifteen alligators swimming in the water. You will only see the telltale eyes and nose of the creature, which will be around a foot or two of their head. If we come across this, we will just continue paddling past it. Again, try not to aim straight at them, and as you get closer and closer, you will normally start to observe a gradual and controlled sinking, and then he will vanish. If you can avoid doing this, you will have a better chance of seeing him. The alligator is often just a few inches below the water's surface. I make it a point to avoid paddling my kayak over the spot where the alligator was last seen. I advise my clients to do this in the event they come across an alligator. At the same time, kayaking and the animal are completely motionless, not making strange movements or sounds, and seem at ease in their environment.

"This is important. Make sure you pay attention. If you come across an alligator, I need you to follow the letter instructions. Unzip your life jacket pocket carefully, remove your camera, and start snapping pictures. That completes it! Please remember that I am not recommending that you paddle at an alligator, nor am I suggesting that you take a selfie with an alligator while standing 5 feet away from it. Ultimately, the most important conclusion we can draw from this is that alligators are generally more likely to be scared of people than people are of them. Because of this, they will often run into the water as soon as possible once you go close to them.

During Alligator Mating Season, Is It Safe To Paddle A Kayak?

During Alligator Mating Season

You may have noted that I indicated you do not need to worry about your safety if you kayak in an area where alligators are present as long as they do not move or make any noise. At this point, we will begin to discuss the conditions under which kayaking alongside alligators may be hazardous. Permit me to restate that: the following are the circumstances in which you should take more measures while kayaking with alligators and when you should pay greater attention to the body language of both them and the environment around you. Every one of our guides is at ease in alligator country, and the alternative would be to go kayaking in Maine if we weren't here. We respectfully treat them as a group. After all, they can cause you terrible injuries or even kill you if they want to.

Alligators Thrive In Warm Climates

I have already indicated that alligators are sluggish and often seem to be statues; yet, there are periods throughout the year when gators begin to move about. The trigger is dependable for us, much like my Toyota tundra. The alligators will immediately transform from frozen statues to remote-controlled boats as soon as the temperature reaches 90 degrees, meaning they will quickly race around the pond as soon as it reaches 90 degrees. This may happen throughout the winter or spring.

The alligator mating season begins when the temperature reaches 90 degrees F on a day with a high of that number. Although it is not yet the peak of the mating season, alligators are now on the prowl across the glades. They are measuring up their conspecifics and searching for the best water sources. Two weeks before the day, with temperatures of 90 degrees, you may have spotted four or five alligators sharing a tiny beach or sandbar; however, things are different today. Nowadays, alligators tend to be more solitary and possessive of their territory. They don't want to have to share the beach with anybody, and the more giant alligators will begin to defend their pond or their piece of the beach if they feel threatened. You must start paying great attention to the alligator's body language as it communicates with you. When you are getting ready to paddle, you can see one, two, or even three alligators moving about while you are getting ready to launch.

Alligator Body Language

When you see many alligators swimming through a pond, it is a sign that it is time for you to pay attention to what is going on. During this season, you will often hear that low scream, or you may see and hear very loud splashes around a corner. Both of these occurrences are common. That might very well turn into an encounter with an alligator. The sight of two alligators engaged in combat is thrilling to see, but it also carries the risk of being injured or killed. Imagine two sheep charging each other and causing a collision. If you go straight into the heart of the fight between the sheep, the sheep could probably charge you. They have no intention of eating you. They are just interested in fighting with you. The same scenario is capable of occurring in the region occupied by alligators. If you were to watch two alligators battle each other, one of them might see you as his next opponent after defeating the other alligator.

Keep in mind that he is not attempting to eat you; instead, he is trying to fight you, which is almost as hazardous. If this does occur, you need to paddle away from the furious alligator as quickly as possible.

What Does The Behavior Of An Irritated Alligator Look Like?

  • By making huffing and puffing motions, you will see that the belly is becoming more significant, and the back will rise out of the water.
  • Clapping one's hands or clamping one's teeth together
  • An alligator in the water is pursuing you.
  • vanishing and reappearing while either drawing nearer to you or remaining at the same distance
  • You will hear the bellow during mating season, and if you're lucky, you'll also get to watch it. The bellow is one of the fascinating natural phenomena I've ever seen.
  • While floating in the water, you will often witness them puffing up and down or their lips snapping in different directions. It's even possible that one may swim straight for you.

If the alligator swims straight towards you, you should turn your kayak to point directly at him and then paddle backward. In a previous section, I said that you shouldn't aim your kayak towards the alligator; nevertheless, if you attempt to frighten him away or make him back down, you should point your kayak at him.

This will keep your attention on the alligator while also positioning the kayak in a position that the alligator does not like. When you see conduct like this, you must remember to be alert and aware of your surroundings. Even if they swim at you, you should remain optimistic that they are fake charging. I have indeed, in fact, been on the receiving end of several charges in the past. However, the alligator is often swimming in your direction as it suddenly changes course and dives, creating a big splash. Yes, it is scary, but if you know how to respond, you can avoid danger and keep yourself safe.

Will Alligators Attack A Kayak?

A quick response would be yes, but the more intelligent answer would probably be no. Given all the information presented before, we have a better understanding of why an alligator may attack a kayaker. Now that we know, alligators do not consider people to be food. Still, they may link us with being fed. We realize that we may need to be extra careful while kayaking with alligators at public boat ramps or docks since they may associate us with being fed.

We are also aware that, just like humans, alligators are prone to mood swings. If I see a guy on the corner of the street pacing back and forth in an unpredictable manner, I'm probably going to head in the other direction and cross the street. Try going about this differently. If I see someone yelling and banging his chest as if he just completed a cage battle, I'm unlikely to approach that person for directions.

If I see an alligator swimming fast back and forth, snapping its jaws, or, even better, roaring and shaking the water with its back, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to avoid that alligator. His body language has conveyed to you that you should not tamper with him.

Nesting Female Alligators

This is another potentially hazardous situation with an alligator. Alligator moms are devoted to their children and would fight to the death to protect their nests and young. If there is an alligator in the area and you come upon a strange raised mound in the center of a pond, you should consider the possibility that it is a nest for an alligator. If I were you, you should stay away from it until you are sure it is not someone else's residence. A mother alligator may pursue you out of that region fast.
On the other hand, I have run upon mother alligators on widely used kayak routes, like the Turner River in Big Cypress. This mother is extremely used to seeing kayakers, and, for the most part, she completely ignores them while they are in the water. I still ensure to be very careful whenever I am near that region.

Kayak Fishing With Alligators

Kayak Fishing With Alligators

I realize this will be a pretty extended essay; however, I did not want to skimp on it, as I wanted to ensure that I had included everything I had learned about kayaking with alligators. My first consistent run-ins with alligators occurred during the summer after the completion of my junior year in college. At this point, I had already shifted my aspirations for a future profession from becoming a specialist veterinarian to working in the field of wildlife biology. To get a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from NC State University, we were required to spend the better part of one summer participating in a "summer camp" that lasted six weeks. This was more like attending summer school than a typical camp experience. In any case, because of this, I could not spend my senior summer of college working as a kayak guide in Maine, as I had done over the previous two summers.

The question now is, what was the next-best action I could take? Find a position as an intern with a company that offers employee accommodation on a bay in eastern North Carolina called Carolina Bay. As a result, I lived with my black lab and left work every day at three o'clock in the afternoon with my dog. Where do you want me to take this? I would go in the canoe at about three o'clock in the afternoon and fish for bream and bass. For those not from the south, a "sunfish" is what we call a bream. Because this took place on private water, there were many enormous breams. They were so huge that I could hardly handle even one in one hand.

How To Catch Fish In Waters Infested With Alligators

Kayak Fishing With Alligators

While hooking and catching these large fish, I began to run into a dilemma. As soon as I started reeling in fish, an increasing number of alligators would make their way toward me. Bringing the fish in too quickly would result in unacceptable noise. To land them successfully, I had to adjust my strategy. The disturbance on the water's surface served as a primary draw for the alligators, and they would swim out and take my fish if they had the chance. If they spotted the opportunity, It dawned on me that I needed to begin reeling in the fish at a more leisurely pace. To prevent breaking them off, I had to keep the tip of my rod pointing closer to the water while allowing for some play. Because I was bringing the fish in more slowly, there was less of a disturbance on the water's surface, and the alligators were often unaware that I was landing fish. The key to success here is to pull in the fish while maintaining as little noise as possible around them.

Nevertheless, the alligators knew I was around, so I had to be on the lookout for them at all times. I had to adjust how I let the fish go or brought them back to life. I would only pose for shots with my hands partially submerged in the water very seldom, and I certainly did not revive them with my hands submerged in the water. I was working as rapidly as possible to get them back into the water while also ensuring that no alligators were waiting just below the surface of the water to grab either my catch or my hand.

Come Out With Us On A Tour In A Guided Kayak

We offer guided kayak trips through the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the Fakahatchee State Preserve just south of Naples and Marco Island. Daily, we come into contact with a significant number of alligators. Alligators have been known to get irritated in the presence of our guides, and on occasion, we have even startled them. Our kayaks are not only very sturdy but also feature higher gunnels than a standard sea kayak since they were created with this region in mind specifically. The life jackets must be the right size for the person participating, as everyone must wear the life jackets. Before they enter the water, we brief them on how to avoid being attacked by alligators. It is possible to kayak alongside alligators if you make the necessary preparations, have the appropriate gear, and have sufficient understanding.

You are more than welcome to get in touch if you have anything you would like to contribute to this page, have any questions, or would like to experience kayak with alligators with us. You are welcome to follow us on Instagram or Facebook, where we often upload photographs and videos documenting our kayak adventures in South Florida and Colorado.