Why Learn the Difference:
According to alligator wrestlers, there is no such thing as a bad wrestler because if you’re bad, you’re dead. The normal gait of alligators and crocodiles on land is the “belly crawl,” but they are the only reptiles who can bring their legs directly under themselves in a “high walk.” In this position, the front and back legs move as synchronous pairs to launch the alligator at prey at speeds of 30 mph for short distances. There are some differences in how to handle an attack. Growing up in Florida, the only place in the world home to both alligators and crocodiles, I have an interest in distinguishing between them.
Alligator and Crocodile Comparison:
- Black, Broad snout.
- Teeth of the upper jaw visible when jaws closed.
- Powerful jaws closing, yet are so weak in opening that that even a child can hold an alligator’s mouth closed.
- Olive brown, Narrow snout.
- Teeth of both jaws visible when jaws closed.
- Powerful jaws both opening and closing, even a grown man can’t hold shut.
- Never feed alligators or they will associate you with food.
- Leave babies and eggs alone, because any adult alligator will respond to a distress call from any youngster.
- Don’t run in zig-zag patterns to avoid a charging alligator. This is based on the myth that alligators can’t turn. In reality an alligator is very agile and faster in short distances than a human. Run in a straight line away from the alligator, since an alligator has low endurance on land.
Fighting an Alligator:
- Try to get on the alligator’s back and put downward pressure on its neck.
- Cover the alligator’s eyes to make it more sedate.
- If the alligator gets you in its jaws, try to avoid it shaking you or rolling over, as this will cause severe tissue damage.
- Punch it on the snout. It may let go and back off.
- Try flipping the alligator over. When you flip over an alligator, a disconnect occurs between the vestibula aparatus of the inner ear and the brain and the pressure put on the brain puts the alligator in a coma-like state.
- Another technique was used by the Seminole Indians for solo alligator hunting. They would have a rope around their waist and once they were on top of an alligator, they would place their chin under the alligator’s lower jaw so they could free their hands to tie the alligator’s mouth shut. Be very certain that you are wrestling an alligator. If you try this on a crocodile, there is no way you can keep its mouth shut, so this would be a fatal mistake.
- Afterwards, seek medical attention immediately, even for a small cut. Alligators have a huge number of pathogens in their mouths