Do Alligators Attack Paddle Boards - Pakaloa

Do Alligators Attack Paddle Boards

Alligators attacks are like paddle boarding. Paddleboarding is a sport most commonly known in Australia, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Indonesia. Like any other sport, it’s also meant sometimes for fun, and sometimes it’s done to reduce the weight. Sometimes paddle boarding is done to socialize with other people. Alligators are one of the deadliest-looking species on earth. While random people may think of paddle boarding and paddle boarders as stupid risk-takers. We must add that passion has no limit. For such people, fear has no space in their lives.

Do Alligators Attack Paddle Boards Riders?

While we think that paddle boarding with alligators is like wishing for death; we must tell you that there are millions of deaths happening each year; out of which only a few are caused by alligators. Gators are not so spooky as we consider them to be. We must mention that you still have to be aware while going for paddle board; because obviously you are going in their region.

There is no animal brutal than the human being itself. The way we fear gators, they are more likely to get scared of a human presence in their premises too. Alligators are more likely to slide into the water, and they do it as an act of defending themselves. Alligators are known to be less harmful than crocodiles that are potentially more dangerous; and have been known to attack human beings as their prey.

Everyone should beware of crocodile attacks

Sometimes people are very conscious of everything, and before trying anything; they deeply concern about the benefits and disasters they can face in the future. So, people also wonder what if one day they get attacked by alligators while paddling and die? Is this the source of entertainment that can be the reason for their death? Is this entertainment sport going to be a pain for the rest of your life if they meet an incident? We are humans, and curiosity is our habit. We always want an answer. So, if we look at the history of Stand-up paddling, then it starts in Hawaii in the 1940s and is growing in popularity day by day. But there are few cases in which people are attacked by alligators, and the reason is carelessness. Stand up paddle boarding is also one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. 

So before going on a paddle boarding adventure, you must keep in mind a few things;

1 – Professionals

Make sure you go with a professional or hire one because professionals are familiar with the area and they have experience in case of any fore coming danger. They know which areas are more damp and inhabitable to alligators. Professionals are well learned about what to expect in what area. Ask around before you launch your paddle board in an area where there might be a gator resting.

2 – Don’t try to get too close.

Always keep in mind that they are gators, wild animals. You never know what might provoke them to attack you. So, always keep a fair distance. Always have safety gear with yourself. Don’t bring any meat or any feed with you that might stir them up. Never fish-hunt in an area where there are alligators. 

Alligators might hook themselves with the fishing rope and attack you. This is because alligators normally survive on fish and small animals that are easily available, and you make it even easier for them. Similarly, you should never intentionally feed an alligator because he may attack you, considering you as one of the feeds. They are wild; they can’t tell where the food ends and where your hand starts so, they won’t be hesitant to bite on you too.

3 – Some more safety measures to take beforehand

You would never want to risk your child’s life. So never take them on such adventures with you. Always check with your gears. Try not to ride an inflatable paddle board that is not of good quality. Do not go to potential gator areas when it’s the breeding season. Never go paddle boarding after dark. Bring heavy-duty torch lights with you. Check the weather report. Keep your phones fully charged and inform someone of your plan and the location to track you in case of emergency. Get yourself prepared for what worst could happen and how hard it could be. Never ever take your pets along with you.

4 – Ask and read about other people’s experiences

Reading and researching online about alligator and paddle boarder stories reveals that even though they aren’t as much of man-eaters as they are deemed in; but you still don’t want to die an anonymous death. You would never allow a wild animal to cause inconvenience in a human-populated area. Similarly, animals don’t like if they feel endangered so, mind you that you don’t cause them in-convenience either or you would probably be attacked. 

There have been several incidents where alligators attack human beings who were not even paddling. One such incident happened in Florida where a 12 feet alligator ate a woman who was just walking around with her pet dogs. Alligators are reptiles, and they will be mostly found in swamps and marshy areas. They attack by concealing themselves near the edge of the water and attack quickly when their prey is near; so it is more advised to stay out of the edges while paddling. 

If you are paddling in the middle of the water, which is most likely, you would often see water ripples and alligators diving deep when the paddle boards approach them. This does not mean that they are going to attack you; this certainly means that it is hiding to protect itself. Watch out for the gator babies. You don’t want to hurt a baby to incite anger in the mommy gator.

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Alligators attack was highly unlikely

It is highly unlikely to be attacked by an alligator while paddling, but it’s not possible. There are always signboards where alligators are present, so if you know that you are going to start riding on a paddle board on the water where alligators are present. Then you should take the necessary precautions. It will keep you safe and will secure your life. As I already mentioned, it’s very rare to be attacked by an alligator while paddling. According to the survey, approximately 55 million people die around the world each year.

Now here arises a question: how many people among those 55 million people are attacked or killed by alligators? Then you will get your answer through Wikipedia that only one person per year is attacked and dies. This ratio seems to be 200 times less than the chance of death by a deer while a person is roaming on earth. So, according to statistics, alligators are not that dangerous as they seem to be. 

No doubt!

Alligators are big and look like beasts, but statistically, they are no risk to the people enjoying stand up paddle boarding on the lake or river. According to the renowned investigator Dr. Jared A. Forrester, MD, department of surgery, Stanford University, “Importantly most deaths are not actually due to wild animals like mountain lions, wolves, bears, sharks, etc.; but are a result of deadly encounters with farm animals, anaphylaxis from bees, wasps, or hornet stings, and dog attacks. So, while it is important that people recreating in the wilderness know what to do when they encounter a potentially dangerous animal, the actual risk of death is quite low.”

As there is only one death per year on average, you still don’t want to be that one. So what will you do if you meet an incident like this, and how will you protect yourself? So, before you jump into the world of paddling, you must clear all the questions of your mind because these questions will be a hindrance to confidence while paddling. You could protect yourself by familiarizing yourself with the threat; and should have some necessary knowledge about alligators and their type of attack. You should know where alligators live? How do they hunt a man? And how can you protect and survive if you ever meet an alligator while paddling? The following is the complete guide to you about the necessary information and how you can protect yourself from the attacks of alligators. 

Where do alligators live, and how do they look?

There are only two species and countries where you will find alligators in the world. The Chinese alligator who lives in China and the American alligator who lives in some states of the United States. The following is the detail and comparison of both alligators. 

Both American and Chinese alligators are cold-blooded and carnivorous reptiles. As they have similarities, they also have many differences. The first difference between Chinese and American alligators is the size. Chinese alligators are much smaller than American alligators. If we talk about numbers, then the Chinese male alligator is almost 5 feet long. The female alligator is 4.5 feet long. In contrast, American alligators are much bigger and longer. The American male alligator is almost 11 feet long, and the female alligator is 8 feet long. 

Weight of alligators

Like size, the Chinese alligators are also smaller in weight than the American alligators. The biggest Chinese alligator weighs almost 100 pounds, while the largest American alligator weighs more than 1000 pounds. Not only size and weight is the difference between the two species, but you can also get an idea from their snouts. The snouts of the Chinese alligators get narrower towards the end and turn up while the snouts of the American alligators don’t turn up. 

Habitat of alligators

Both species of alligators live in the area which is near freshwater. The Chinese alligators are now endangered and are protected in the area of eastern China. So there are almost zero chances that they are a threat to human life also because of their small size. The Chinese alligators are found in the Yangtze river basin. In contrast, the American alligators live near the freshwater and swaps in the SouthEast United States, mostly in Florida and Louisiana.

So, knowing about alligators’ habitat, you have a clear idea that you have no threat of an alligator if you are paddling in an area other than the SouthEast United States or the Yangtze river basin, Eastern China. Chinese alligators are now limited in numbers, and the reason for their extinction is the poison they got when they eat rats. Moreover, some of them are also killed by humans because they are afraid of them, and some need their meat. According to a survey, only a few Chinese alligator nests have been found in the last decades. 

Diet of alligators

Both American alligators and Chinese alligators are crocodilians and carnivores, so they eat other animals’ meat. As we know, their habitat is near freshwater, so they mostly eat fish, shellfish, water birds, and small mammals that also live in or near freshwater. The Chinese alligators have blunt teeth; that’s why they are better at eating shellfish. Chinese alligators prefer bivalves and snails because their teeth are designed for that type of food. While the American alligators have sharp teeth, which help them to firmly grab their prey to feed. Their meal is not limited when they feel hungry; they eat whatever they can catch. American alligators are larger in size and have more weight, so they eat larger mammals and reptiles; including pets like dogs and cats, turtles, and also attack humans when they are hungry. In contrast, Chinese alligators don’t attack humans.

Alligator and Crocodiles

Alligators are not aggressive, so they are not much likely to attack humans and have a great sense of tolerance. There are only a few cases of attacks by alligators, so we should also be careful and not provoke them. Alligators and crocodiles behave differently when they see humans. The attitude of crocodiles when they see people as potential prey, so they attack immediately and eat humans. However, alligators are not aggressive to attack and have patience even if we enter their territory. Some cases of attacks by alligators are only due to humans’ carelessness when they get too close to the water and don’t see alligators coming or waiting or humans swimming in the area with alligators. Necessary precautions are very important to protect yourself from any kind of incident. 

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Do alligators attack inflatable paddle boards - Pakaloa
Do alligators attack inflatable paddle boards

How do alligators attack their prey?

Alligators have a particular style to hunt their prey, and they are also known as ambush hunters. They have the ability to quick bursts of speed, but they can’t have prolonged pursuits. Alligators stalk their prey without showing their appearance and keeping themselves at rest so no one can feel their presence, and they can get their prey easily. They mostly stay below the water and near the edge of the water. When an animal comes near the edge of the water to drink it, they make their quick move and get their prey. They catch their prey with powerful teeth and swallow them or drag them to the water to eat it later. 

Alligators mostly make their move near the edge of the water; that’s why standing near the edge of the water with carelessness is the worst thing to do in alligator territory, and that mistake can turn into the last or worst incident of your life. No matter if it’s a deer, squirrels, dogs, cats, or humans’ alligators see them as their meal. It’s also found that alligators have a shy nature means if they are not regularly hunting. Then they want to stay out of sight. An alligator spy when he sees a paddle boarder. There are more chances that it will not attack and just goes towards a safe and covered place of the water. 

How to figure out which areas have more alligators attack

As said earlier, alligators are reptiles, which means they are cold-blooded and need the sun to warm themselves, so they will always be found on the water bank, sunbathing. Now the question is, how would you tell where alligators rest.

  • You would notice a mud trail that is a sign that there are alligators, so you would probably not go there.
  • These traces might also be made by mother alligators that may have nestled her eggs somewhere there. So make sure you don’t interrupt that path.
  • During the mating season, male alligators are more defensive towards their areas, and they make specific low bellowing sounds which serve as a warning signal for the paddle boarders.
  • To really avoid an encounter with these beasts, you should watch out for the weather reports. On colder days, you are less likely to see an alligator because they wouldn’t be coming above the surface of the water as they are cold-blooded.
  • Most alligators are known to inhabitant the southeastern parts of America and some parts of East China. So, you should avoid those areas.
  • Salt-rich water is less likely to have gators, so try padding those regions, but again you should be aware of the fact that if not alligators, then there might be some other kind of wild species out there.

How to know that alligators are nearby?

Alligators are cold-blooded animals, so to warm themselves, they come out of the water in the sun daily. So, if you want to know that are there any alligators near, you can look at their telltale signs, which will tell you that you should be careful. Alligators have a particular location and a set path through which they came out of the water and hauled themselves. If you live in the areas of alligators, then you might have seen a beaten-down trail in the vegetation or a smooth line making mud on the edge of the water. So, whenever you see these signs, you should find some other place to enjoy paddling safely. 

The signs or slides could also be made by female alligators building nests or laying eggs. So, in these conditions, female alligators become sensitive, so make sure that you don’t come in between the mother alligator and her eggs or nests. Another sign to know about the presence of alligators is their mating season. Generally, their mating season is in late May, April, or early June. In this season, male alligators make a low bellowing sound and slap the water with jaws. So, if you hear any slap like the sound in the water, take all precautionary measures, or the best is to stay away from that area. 

If you are enjoying paddling in the freshwater of Coastal TX, Coastal NC, or Florida. Then you must be careful and take safety precautions even if you don’t see the signs of alligators near that area because prevention is better than cure. 

How to prevent yourself from an alligators attack on a Stand-Up paddle board?

Don’t paddle near alligator’s territory 

The best way to protect yourself from enjoying more in life is to avoid paddling in dangerous areas. These dangerous areas where you can find alligators such as the Southeast United States or a small area in Eastern China. Chinese alligators are now limited, and these are the only places where alligators live. If you live in these areas and want to do paddling, it will be better to avoid freshwater and stick paddling in saltwater; because there are much fewer chances of alligators being seen in saltwater.

Be confident about paddling because it’s the sport to enjoy and to give peace of mind not to danger your life. Alligators also avoid cold water and cold weather, so they avoid coming out in these water and areas and become less active. So, if you want to enjoy paddling, stick to saltwater or cold water with extra precautions. The lower temperature, the better it is. 

SUP fishing with alligators nearby

SUP fishing is entertaining and fun work, but fish are the meal of alligators. So, if you are in the territory of alligators, don’t do fishing because, in some cases, alligators take hooked fish to eat and become hooked themselves. In this case, you can meet an incident or risk your life. No one wants their expensive paddle board to be destroyed by alligators. It will be a better idea to move from the place for fishing where there are alligators, even if that’s your favorite spot for fishing. Your life is much more important than any of your favorite places, and you will never want to be associated with alligator food. 

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You will always find some signboards whenever there is a chance to find an alligator. Some of the signboards also mention that don’t feed anything to alligators. These signs are for your safety and your precious life, so heed those signs and don’t avoid these precautionary measures. 

Avoid shoreline

If you live near the areas where there are chances of having alligators in the water so it will be better to avoid paddling on the shoreline. I have many experiences of seeing alligators whenever I accidentally or mistakenly go near the shoreline. Last year I was paddling in the Northeast Cape Fear River, and when I headed near the shoreline; I saw almost an 8 footer basking on the muddy bank, and he moved towards me. I became so scared and thought an alligator was going to attack me, but he hit the water and moved under my bow in the deep water. This incident reassured me that these alligators are not interested in eating humans on paddle boards, and it’s not the place for swimming. 

Because of some more of this kind of incident near the shoreline, I now avoid paddling close to the shoreline because I don’t want any alligator to damage my paddle board to go in the deep water. Because there is not much time for you to move your board quicker than an alligator and you might fall in the water due to losing your balance. You never want to be fell in the water with a scared alligator who is moving down and can be a nightmare for the rest of your life. So, it will be a better idea to avoid these places where you could accidentally be knocked off by the alligator from your board; such as narrow lakes or storyline. 

Be careful and alert

There is a famous quote that prevention is better than cure. The more you will be careful and attentive while paddling in the area of alligators, the more will be your safety chances. Be aware of the place where you are going to enjoy paddling. If you are in an unfamiliar place, it would be a better idea to ask the nearby people about water’s surroundings as it will prevent you from the sudden shock when you are not expecting that. Most people launch their paddle board in the water from the edge, and these edges don’t show the signs of nesting, so asking people is a better and safer idea. 

Once you start paddling in the alligator’s territory, you should avoid the places where alligators are usually located. Such as narrow channels, canals, creeks, or bends in rivers. Be attentive and more careful when you are near the edge of the water. It’s the place where alligators usually ambush their prey, and no doubt! You don’t want to be prey. Stay alert and careful because it will be your life’s safety. 

Don’t startle the alligators

Don’t startle the alligators. It means do not go near the areas where they are more likely to reside. You should never go paddling in a narrow river where there are fewer chances to escape in case of an unwanted situation. 

In case if you go near the shorelines where they ambush their prey by camouflaging themselves under the mud, you might shock the alligators, and they could splash under the water. Now when such giant monsters splatter under the water and if you are nearby, they might not hurt you, but the huge wave of water can, in turn, cause you to lose your balance and fall underwater.

In case you sense that you are about to get attacked

You don’t want to, but just imagine one day you are standing beside the river preparing yourself to launch in the water with your paddle board, and as soon as you set in motion, you feel a bump in water in front of you, and you are too paralyzed to even think of anything but running away. What would you do? How far would you run to save yourself? 


The first thing that might come to your mind is to run in a zigzag manner that you most probably have heard all your life. This could be a myth or could not be in many cases. Alligators are the cheetahs of water. They run at a speed of 11 miles per hour, and this might force you to think that you would probably be dead, but no. alligators are fast, but they aren’t as fast on the land. 


Secondly, they don’t run for too long behind a pry. They get tired and stop hunting. Running in a zigzag manner could be false, but because alligators run fast and straight, they might lose the lead when you start running in a zigzag manner, but even if you run straight and fast, you would still be able to escape them because they don’t run far to catch their prey. 

This is just not their hunting strategy. They hunt for easy prey that they can catch easily and then can engulf in one swallow. That is why I also mentioned earlier that don’t take your kids with you because obviously kids are small and they can’t run as fast as an adult can.

Lastly, despite all the safety precautions you take and all the stories you might have heard, you still should always keep that in mind that whether small or large, less dangerous than most other animals, alligators are still wild animals. Even smaller than 3 feet, gators have 80 razor-sharp teeth, and it could take you days to recover from even a bite from such an alligator if not served as a meal for them.

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