Kayaking with Alligators in Florida (Fun, Dangerous, and Necessary)

Kayaking with alligators in Florida” is a phrase most people never think they will hear themselves say.

Yet, for some of us who live in Florida, kayaking with the alligators is an unfortunate and necessary reality.

When you learn how to stay safe while kayaking through gator-infested waters, it can be one of the best adventures you’ve ever had.

In spite of their frightening appearance, are alligators really dangerous to kayakers?

Do alligators attack kayakers in Florida?

The probability of an alligator attack on a kayak in Florida is very low.

If you see an alligator along your kayak path, do not get out of the boat. National Geographic estimates gators will try to flee 95% of the time when approached by humans.

Occasionally a gator can be found fed by people and lost its fear of humans, but they don’t tend to get the kayakers. If someone comes to your kayak, turn away from them or go away from them. Do not stay near them.

While they’ll never actually attack your kayak, aggressive alligators do tend to bump underneath it.

As a kayaker, you might see an alligator. If you’re feeling brave and are paddle solo, try these tips:

  • wait to go out into the water until the mating season is over;
  • ever get out of your boat when it’s on land;
  • and always paddle with friends-especially during mating season.

A kayak is not a boat. In case you see an alligator, paddle away from it and do not let it come near you. Suppose someone comes up to your kayak and starts bumping or making noise, then back off.

Alligators are not always gentle when humans come to them. They can show aggression to other alligators during mating season. So as a general rule, never go near one and always give them space unless you’re feeling courageous.

Is it safe to kayak in Florida with alligators?

Generally speaking, kayaking with alligators in Florida is safe. However, you should know more about them to avoid dangerous situations.

Slapping or spooking the water with your paddle will attract alligators. However, you can usually avoid trouble if you keep your distance from unfamiliar gators.

When checking out a lake, head 100 yards away if you spot one or more alligators in the area.

If you find yourself in a saltwater environment with an alligator, calmly get back in your kayak or over to dry land without thrashing about nervously. Alligators are curious and will likely follow out of curiosity but quickly wander back to their designated area as time passes.

If you panic, like by thrashing around in the water or jumping, then you might get eaten.

Try to distance yourself from the alligators. When doing so, be careful not to off-balance and topple over in your kayak. We don’t want you getting eaten alive.

It is a common misconception that alligators hunt humans for food. People get attacked when an alligator has become used to humans. For example, it might attack someone who comes too close to its nest, and the mother is nearby.

Steps to avoid being bitten

  • Respect their territory, do your best not to step on the bottom of fresh water in climates where alligators are common.
  • Be wary around areas with lots of vegetation or other places they might live.
  • Don’t swim in areas with known alligators.
  • When fishing, do your best not to tangle any lines.

If you get attacked by an alligator, fight back. The more fierce the struggle is, the less likely alligators can bite something other than what they’re biting at.

From Wikipedia, alligators’ bites themselves are rarely fatal for adults. (You’ll exsanguinate if they get an artery; otherwise, most “bite victims” survive.)

Most people who die from alligator attacks are dragged under the water and drowned. It is especially true for people who are small or vulnerable. Some of these victims have broken spines because the alligators toss them around to make them hurt, and then they drag them down under the water to save that person later.

Kayak cruises through Florida swamp full of dangerous creatures

How aggressive are Florida alligators?

Alligators are usually not interested in anything bigger than a 6-year-old. That is because they like to conserve energy not attack anything too big for them.

All bets are off during the mating season.

But they will almost always attack a topwater plug (except on the opening day of alligator hunting season). It’s hard to predict what an alligator will do because it is a wild animal, but I feel safe when I go kayaking.

It is best not to provoke or harass alligators, and you should leave the area if they come close. If an alligator tries to take your kayak from you, hold on firmly and move away in a swift motion. However, it may be necessary to tear off limbs (not recommended).

RELATED:  Can You Fit a 10 Ft Kayak in an SUV? [Some Tips for Kayakers]

One of the reasons that alligators kill far fewer people than other family members is that they’re very timid animals. For example, crocodiles kill thousands of people a year, and there are many reasons they are so dangerous.

The first thing you need to do if you want to take someone human is bold. We are tall and make a lot of noise, which means we act like prey. However, other animals are not afraid of us. They know that there is a reason we stand out in the open and aren’t scared like other animals.

Crocodiles are hungry animals that may attack anything that moves. Gators don’t hunt that way. They don’t attack things, they wait for them to come by, and they eat it.

What to do if you see an alligator in Florida?

  • If an alligator is not coming to people or causing any problems, wait a few days. They can go further away and will move in a week or two.
  • Alligators have been known to hiss when they feel threatened or when defending their territory.
  • Alligators are scared of people. If you walk up to an alligator, it will usually go away and then quickly run away. It would help if you never tried to touch an alligator because they can move fast on land. Alligators are quick and can defend themselves. A female protecting a nest might charge someone who gets close to the nest and quickly go back to the nest when the person leaves.
  • Alligators can stay in the water for a long time, usually trying to warm themselves up. They might have their mouth open for a while so that they can cool down. Alligators will go into the water if people come close. Alligators are not a problem if they stay in the water. But if you see one, it is best to call animal control.
  • If an alligator comes out of the water at you, it is not good. You should call the police right away and report it to Florida Parks and Wildlife Department. People in the past might have fed the alligator.
  • If you ever encounter a gator on a walk with your pet, keep your pet on a leash. The alligator might think that it is easy food. If the alligator is near where pets live, make sure your pet stays inside or in a fenced area for a few days until the alligator leaves.
  • If you see an alligator in the road or at a park, please do not approach it. Call your local authorities immediately for assistance and reported sightings.
  • When you are swimming near an alligator, do not swim with it. Alligators can be dangerous. Sometimes they attack, and sometimes people come too close. As long as you remember that there are dangers outside, it will be okay to play out.
  • A topwater fishing lure makes it easy for alligators to catch food. Alligators like this because they are the same as natural food. That is not a threat to humans, but if the alligator does not go away after an encounter with a boat, canoe, or watercraft and is too close, it may be considered a nuisance alligator.
  • If there is a nuisance alligator, it might be because someone threw fish heads in the water. People who do this could get fined up to $500.

Is it dangerous to kayak in the Everglades?

I’ve been kayaking with alligators in Florida, and thankfully I’m still alive. Of course, it’s never completely safe to go out on the water where there are enormous animals. But it is much safer than if you were driving your car downtown Miami. So don’t take out your paddle until the guide tells you to.

I would recommend listening to a good tour guide, even if you’re not a novice. Whether you arm yourself with knowledge ahead of time or not, they know what they’re doing and have the skills necessary to keep people alive.

Make sure to take caution when kayaking with ‘gators. Adult alligators are usually non-aggressive, whereas babies can attract the mama gator’s attention and also attack.

If you are afraid of spiders, you might not want to take a tour of the mangrove tunnels. They will have spiders living in the trees. The spiders are giant and colorful. And sometimes there are mosquitos.

Thousands partake in this activity every year, and I haven’t heard of an incident. However, be smart and safe to avoid any unwanted surprises during your experience.

Though it’s possible to kayak around alligators, they are wild animals that can threaten humans. Therefore, tourists should keep an appropriate distance of at least 15 feet away from them.

Don’t get too close to an animal if it is hissing. Alligators and crocodiles are more active at night, so do not go near them then. They may look like a statue sometimes, but they are alive and can react quickly. Touching animals is not good because it hurts them.

RELATED:  How Much Water Should You Drink While Kayaking?

It is illegal to feed or harass an animal. Anything that changes an animal’s natural behaviors is harassment, and it leads to penalties in fines for the people who do this terrible behavior.

As you can see from the picture, there are a lot of alligators around.

Is it safe to swim in the Everglades?

Alligators in Florida are known for their aggression and dominate the winding waterways of the Everglades. They feed primarily off other animals in the ‘glades, detecting even the slightest movement from land.

So if you’re wondering whether it’s safe to go swimming in these waters – do not bother with a response as it is absolutely not.

Additional key features of the Everglades are alligators and crocodiles coexisting so that you may spot some of those. You want to avoid swimming among these creatures at any cost.

What city in Florida has the most alligators?

The largest population of gators lives in Gainesville, FL. The U.S state with the most alligators in Florida has over 1 million of these reptiles living within its borders.

If you’re thinking about kayaking in the southeastern United States, be aware that American alligators inhabit freshwater rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes.

Alligators are one of the most common and iconic American animals. Alligator sightings in Florida, for example, are surprisingly common: with an estimated population of five million across America’s southeastern lowlands, you can expect to see them all over this state.

Are there alligators in Key West, FL?

Crocodiles and alligators live in many locations throughout the Florida Keys, especially Key West. In regards to Key West specifically, there are a few crocodiles.

Alligators are most often seen in saltwater, and throughout Big Pine Key, they can only be found freshwater pond known as the Blue Hole Pond. Around the Florida Keys, alligators usually inhabit freshwater habitats. However, crocodiles, which can also survive in saltwater environments, are more likely to be seen because they prefer it.

The American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and the saltwater crocodile are not the same. They are from swamps, marshes, rivers, and oceans around tropical regions of Africa, Australia, Asia & America, but they are different species.

The American crocodile is less an aggressive creature than a saltwater crocodile, though it can be unpredictable.

Are there crocodiles in Tampa, FL?

If you go out on a kayaking trip in Tampa, Florida, chances are you’ll spot an alligator much faster than a crocodile.

If you want to see alligators, they’re in a lot of places in Tampa. There are a few hundred yards from where I’m typing this right now, close enough to touch. They’ll be on the bank with some turtles and other critters hanging out too.

Gators are a common occurrence in freshwater ponds, and Floridians have gotten used to them. They won’t attack without provocation and usually just lie at the water’s edge or swim along its bank.

There have been few reports of people being killed by alligators in Florida. However, reports say that gators between 1948 and 2016 caused 23 injuries or deaths.

Are there alligators in the St. Johns River?

Yes, without question. It’s one of the few rivers in North America that flow north on its east coast, along with Florida. The marshes at the banks of this river are prime habitats for alligators.

You can find some of Florida’s incredible wildlife and scenery just by kayaking down the St. Johns River, even with alligators around you.

Where can you kayak in Florida without alligators?

With alligators, sharks, and live oak trees all competing for space in Florida’s waterways, some rivers are still accessible to kayakers.

Some of the more popular areas in Central Florida that either alligators or sharks don’t occupy include freshwater spring-fed rivers. Some of these may consist of: Ichetucknee Springs, Madison Blue Spring, Withlacoochee River Corridor Park (Upper), and Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail.

When Ichetucknee Springs is busy with active tubers, I suspect the alligators will stay away.

The Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail is a 150 mile long paddling area, which features various small towns and stretches of low-lying islands. It also includes different types of fish and the best turtles in Florida’s Gulf Coast.

We are all creatures of habit. We’ve learned what to do when we encounter something that makes us feel uneasy, and we follow those habits. But, unfortunately, that is often the wrong thing to do if you find yourself facing an active alligator while kayaking.

Kayaking tours can be a great way to learn about kayaking. In addition, you will have someone with you to help you if you need it.

The tour guides here know where you can stop for lunch or a change of scenery. Gator kayaking is a great way to get into the water and work as an integral part of Florida’s ecosystem.

Are there any lakes in Florida without alligators?

No, there are no natural lakes free from alligators. In Florida, many lakes are made by people. In these lakes, alligators live there because they do not naturally exist in this state. Alligators live in resorts and other communities that have their lakes.

As time goes on, either a snake or an alligator will come to the water.

Picture of a beautiful Florida swamp and a kayaker enjoying the beautiful scenery

Alligator attacks in Florida

Here are some recent alligator attacks in Florida:

  1. Cynthia Covert, 58, was pulled under and drowned by an alligator in a pond behind a home near Salt Cedar Lane, Kiawah Island.
  2. Cassandra Cline died Saturday after a confrontation with an alligator at Sea Pines Golf Course in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Witnesses said Cline was protecting her dog when the animal grabbed her into a lagoon and dragged her underwater. While no one saw the attack or knows what prompted it, experts say it is common for alligators to remain near waterways where they can find prey while sheltered from humans. The dog was unharmed by the attack.
  3. Shizuka Matsuki, 47, was found dismembered and dead after being dragged by a gator at Silver Lake Rotary Nature Park in Davie, Florida.
  4. Bonnie Walker, a 90-year-old woman from South Carolina, was found dead in a retention pond near Brookdale Senior Living Center on July 29. A coroner’s report says she suffered “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries” consistent with an alligator attack.
  5. The body of Lane Graves, 2, male and resident of Omaha, NE, was recovered with injuries sustained from an alligator attack. At age two and residing in Omaha, Nebraska, the victim was playing on the beach when an alligator attacked him. The father then tried to rescue him as a second gator came up to the family who was still unaware of how close it was to them.”
  6. Richard Zachary Taylor, 72, male, had been reported as an alligator victim on or about June 5, 2016. Police recovered Taylor’s body after a report of an alligator with a body in its mouth near Lake Hunter in Lakeland, Florida. Trappers responded and eventually caught the alligator over two days later. Detectives did not know whether Taylor drowned or was killed by the reptile. His decomposed body indicated that he had been at the water for days which matched their necropsy findings.
  7. An alligator attacked and killed 22-year old Matthew Riggins on November 13, 2015.
  8. James Okkerse, 62, was killed by a 12-foot alligator while swimming at the Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida.
  9. After an 11-foot alligator appeared at Burkart’s Marina in Texas, bystanders were told to stay out of the water. Tommie Woodward mocked the alligator and jumped into the water near it. He was immediately pulled under and killed by a severe injury to his chest.
RELATED:  Fat People Can Fit in Kayaks (A Guide to Kayaking for the Plus-Sized)

Source: Wikipedia

Is pepper spray effective on alligators?

“The pepper spray is a considerably better option than no protection at all.”

You can ward off attacking animals with pepper spray, but only at close range. Extreme fear and the resultant adrenalin surge can make someone unfit for fighting back properly if surprise attacks happen. That’s why it’s essential to retain a cool head in such situations if you intend to use this insect repellent.

If you have a can of pepper spray out and at the ready before an alligator is on top of you, it could stop them in their tracks.

I would recommend practicing with one-on-one encounters first to get a feel for how it works.

What else should I know about alligators in Florida?

  • Kayaks are not the main target of these predators, but they can still be dangerous.
  • The alligator’s best hunting mode is the ambush, so you should always watch your surroundings and stay on high alert for signs of an imminent attack.
  • Female alligators are the most dangerous and will attack if they feel their nest is threatened or you’re too close to the water.
  • Only a few gator encounters ended up with a human fatality, but experts warn this is just a matter of time.
  • If you spot an alligator in Florida – stay clear and keep your pet on the leash.
  • The best approach to spotting these creatures is by looking for reflections in the water or their eyes, usually at least two feet above the surface.
  • Male alligators tend to be the most aggressive as they are trying to defend their territory.
  • Baby alligators don’t seem to be a source of danger but keep your eye on the size of its mouth.
  • Alligator behavior depends on several factors like size, age, and health.
  • Female alligators are usually not as aggressive as males and are more likely to move away when they spot humans or pets near their territory, making them easier to approach.
  • Always remember that gators are predators and can pose a danger.
  • Alligators tend to attack humans only in cases of provocation.
  • When it comes to young alligators, it is best not to feed them as they will either associate humans with food or become dependent on humans for food.
  • Alligators are prehistoric reptiles which means they are not hurt by the cold and can live in their environment for a long time.
  • If you encounter an alligator underwater, try not to make any sudden movements and stay at least 20 feet away.
  • Alligators will protect their nests, so be ready for an encounter if you’re anywhere near one.
  • Always respect gator territory to avoid any fatal encounters.
  • Do not EVER feed alligators as it is a punishable crime, and you’ll be fined.

Last updated on June 19, 2022 by Duncan Barrett

Leave a Comment