Alligators are considered as old as dinosaurs as they first appeared on Earth 37 million years ago. They still exist in a large number, especially in the United States. These predatory reptiles are known for their sharp teeth and powerful jaws. They tend to live mostly in water and sometimes might appear on land. Alligators are considered lazy and go after small prey. Alligator attacks are rare and only occur when they are scared or feel threatened by something.
But have you ever wondered about how fast alligators can run? Unlike animals with long and thin legs, such as cheetahs and horses, alligators have short and stubby legs. This factor might affect their speed, but still, do not take them for granted. They do have sudden and quick outbursts of speed depending upon the circumstances. You do not want to get hurt by these big scary reptiles.
Here in this article, we will discuss everything about this impressive creature. How fast can it run on land and in water? Whether a human can outrun or outswim an alligator? Some different facts about this species and much more. You will get the answers to all your questions about alligators. So, let us begin!
How Fast Can an Alligator Run?
Alligators’ speeds depend on whether they are on land or underwater. Generally speaking, their speed is 17 kph or 11 mph on land, whereas it increases to 32 kph or 20mph in water. They can run extremely fast on short stretches but cannot maintain their fast speed for longer distances. However, you will be amazed at how fast alligators run while catching prey or are being preyed upon by another predator. If an alligator is within 10 feet distance, you might need to run from them as they are extremely fast and dangerous. An alligator’s body consists of large and solid muscles that help them to raise its body from underwater and can attack the birds flying close to the water.
How Fast Can Alligators Run on Land?
Although Alligators are mostly seen on land, they are freshwater animals and like to spend most of their time underwater. However, sometimes they might have to reach the land and survive on it to avoid any threat.
It should be noted that an alligator’s speed is not that fast compared to other animals with long and skinny legs, such as cheetahs, horses, or ostriches. Their speed is usually related to human jogging speed at a moderate pace. Typically speaking, their speed reaches a maximum of 17 kph or 11 mph on land.
How Fast Can Alligators Swim in Water?
Alligators can swim at a speed of 32kph or 20mph. This speed is much faster than the average human swimmer. Humans have an average speed of 2mph while swimming. Typically, alligators swim at a slower pace and conserve their energy, but if they have to, they will definitely swim at a faster rate!
These animals have some adaptations helping them swim fast. They have long and very muscular bodies with a flattened tail. Alligators’ back feet are webbed and act as paddles while swimming in the water, and their limbs are folded along their bodies. The movement of all four limbs is regulated to move swiftly underwater.
Is it possible for a Human to Outrun an Alligator?
A human can outrun an alligator on land as the top speed of a human is 15mph, and that of an alligator is 11mph. This speed is only for some short quicker outbursts. Alligators are considered lazy and do not prey upon larger animals, but if they feel threatened by a predator or even a human, they can run fast. In case of an encounter with an alligator, it is advised that you avoid any sudden movement and do not run away from them but instead back away from them calmly and slowly.
Is It Possible for a Human to Outswim an Alligator?
A human cannot outrun an alligator; however, the fastest swimmer, Frédérick Bousquet, has a record of swimming at 5.342mph which is 143 meters per minute. The difference between these numbers, 536 meters per minute for an alligator and 143 meters for the fastest swimmer shows that alligators are snappier than humans. So, it might be possible to outrun an alligator, but you can’t outswim an alligator.
Can Alligators Climb
In addition to running and swimming, alligators can climb too. They can climb almost anything that has the ability to incline, including trees, fences, or stairs. Young alligators can climb better than adults as they are lightweight and shorter. They use their power to jump and attack prey flying above the water. Usually, they conserve their energy, but when attacking, they strike with great strength.
What are the Factors Affecting an Alligator’s Speed?
Gender, size, and weight play an important role in determining the speed of a gator. A bull alligator is 8 feet long and weighs 250-300lbs, having about 20mph of running speed. Female alligators are sleeker than males and also weigh less which helps them maintain a higher speed for longer durations. They will require a large amount of energy to move and cannot maintain their high speed for longer durations.
Interesting Facts about Alligators
Alligators have been on Earth for millions of years, and people are curious about them. So, we have gathered some interesting facts about these unique creatures.
People used to believe that the existence of albino alligators is a myth but let us tell you that they are very real and are found in Florida. These gators lack melanin, which makes their skin white and sensitive to the sun. Therefore, they tend to stay in dark and shady areas to avoid the sun. Their eyes look pink if you look closely because you can see the blood vessels below them.
Alligators as Mothers
Alligators are considered dangerous predators but they prove to be great mothers for their young ones. Mother alligators protect their eggs and keep them in a safe place. They even protect their nests and avoid staying away for them for long. When it’s time for the eggs to hatch, alligators carry their eggs from the nest to the water. Alligators protect their young ones even when they are out of the eggs for almost one year.
Ability to Lose and Regrow Teeth
Alligators are known to lose almost 2000 teeth during their whole lifetime. But fortunately, they can regrow them. At any time, alligators will have 80 teeth in their mouth.
Ability to Leap
Alligators can leap five feet out of water. They can push themselves up with the help of their tail and can attack any animal that is close to the water level.
Alligators are Smart
Alligators can be very smart and crafty when it comes to hunting their prey. They gather sticks and carry them on their snouts, and when a bird comes to look for any material to build their nest, alligators jump on them and attack them.
Will Alligators Chase People?
Alligators usually fear people and try staying away from them. However, if they feel threatened, they will attack you without thinking for even a second. Alligator aggression is rare, but it might happen at the shoreline. It is recommended that you stay away from the shore and avoid walking or swimming in the areas where you know that gators might be present. Alligators are very active during dusk, so it is better to stay alert during this time.
When are Alligators Most Likely to Attack?
There are certain conditions or circumstances where alligators are most likely to attack. One must be aware of all these conditions to keep them safe and avoid attack from a gator. These conditions are:
- They are most likely to attack during their mating season, from May to June.
- While they are hunting for food and are hungry, especially at night.
- When humans threaten them in any way or try to tease them.
- When humans try to approach their nest or harm their eggs.
Different animal welfare experts suggest avoiding these circumstances to prevent yourself from such attacks. Although alligators do not prefer to target humans as their prey; instead, they choose animals like fish, birds, turtles, or snakes.
Can Running in a Zig-Zag Pattern Helps in Getting Away from an Alligator?
Some misconceptions state that running in a zig-zag pattern helps people run away from an alligator. But this is not true! Possibilities are there that running in a zig-zag manner will only be able to help you cover a very short distance. While at the same time, the alligator moving straight can easily get to you. And we know that alligators are pretty good at covering smaller distances.
Can Alligators Survive on Land?
Alligators are not considered aquatic animals, so they can also survive on land. Alligators just choose to stay in freshwater, otherwise, they can survive on land as long as they want. They breathe in air, and they don’t need to keep their skin wet to survive.
Alligators are unique reptiles seen on land as well as in water. Despite having short and stubby legs, alligators can run fast at 11mph on land and 20mph in water. They generally stay away from humans but are wild attackers if they feel any threat from them. It is advised to keep calm in an encounter with a gator and move away from them slowly. Alligators have unique characteristics as they can jump and climb, in addition to running and swimming. Always make sure to maintain a safe distance while you are exploring the wildlife. You don’t want to get attacked by these scary creatures, right?