do alligators attack kayaks

When Alligators Attack: Staying Safe on Your Kayak

Going out in a kayak can be quite an adventure, taking you deep into places you can’t go on foot. You can experience things like kayaking with alligators with exciting views of nature. But you might be wondering just exactly how safe this is.

There is the possibility that an alligator will attack a kayak, but it is a very rare possibility. They may feel threatened, protect their young, and have more aggression due to the mating season. An attack rarely happens by giving alligators enough space, not feeding them, avoiding their nests, and leaving your dog at home.

Do Alligators Attack Kayaks?

The short answer is yes, but the better answer is generally no. However, if they associate you and your kayak with food, they may attack them to obtain that food source.

Alligators, like people, can be moody. They demonstrate with their body language that it’s not a good time to be around them, and if you take your kayak around them, there is the potential that they will attack.

If they feel threatened, this creates another scenario in which they may attack a kayak. During mating season, they are more aggressive and will attack anything they see as a threat.

Staying Safe When Kayaking with Alligators

When you are kayaking, there are several steps you can take to stay safe from alligators. Note that many involve not crowding or invading the space of the alligator, which would make them feel threatened.

Don’t Paddle Up on an Alligator

You should try maintaining at least 60 feet between you and an alligator. This will prevent you from becoming what appears to be a threat to the animal. When an alligator appears within this distance, maintain your kayak side-on with the alligator and continue.

Never paddle directly upon an alligator or point your kayak at it. Paddle calmly and move smoothly through the water. If one appears ahead of you, try to shift out of its direct path, pointing the kayak away from it and approaching side-on.

It’s important to remember that alligators will outswim your paddling, so provide as much space as possible for them.

Don’t Feed Them

If you didn’t know, feeding an alligator is illegal. The reason behind this is that it will decrease their natural fear of humans and make them associate humans with food. They’ll be more likely to approach you in your kayak, putting you in danger.

Pay Attention to Their Body Language

Alligators will give off signals before an attack or defensive response. You’ll notice signs like hissing, bellowing, and rising out of the water. If the alligator starts coming toward you with speed, make as much noise as possible to attempt to thwart its progress.

Leave Fido at Home

Alligators find dogs tasty and have no problem picking yours off your kayak. Quite a few of the reported alligator kayak attacks have involved the presence of a dog.

If an alligator were to bump your boat, knocking you and your dog into the water, the chances of you both returning to safety are slim to none. If you want to take your dog kayaking with you, you’ll need to find an area that is not gator-friendly.

Avoid Alligator Nests

Strange, elevated mounds in the pond’s center are most likely alligator nests, especially if you see alligators nearby. Mother alligators will protect their babies, so you will want to avoid this area at all costs. Do not approach it.

Be Vigilant During Mating Season

Alligators are more aggressive during mating season, so you’ll need to be more vigilant. Their courtship begins in April, with mating running through May and June. The best option is to avoid kayaking in their habitats during these months.

Don’t Suddenly Decide It’s Time for a Swim

Jumping off your kayak into the water in alligator territory can be pretty dangerous. Swimming at night is especially dangerous as this is their busy time.

Don’t Block the Alligator’s Exit

If you find you are paddling straight for an alligator, you need to ensure you change paths as quickly as possible. When an alligator feels backed into a corner, it may lash out defensively, putting you in danger. Always make sure it can escape.

Make Some Noise

Whenever traveling into alligator territory, make sure you have a device that can produce some noise. This can be something like an airhorn. You want it to be loud enough to scare away an approaching alligator. It could be the only thing that prevents an attack.

Kayak Fishing with Gators

You might wonder if it’s possible to fish from your kayak in alligator territory. While it is more complex, it can be done. You will have to hone your technique for reeling the fish in, as too much noise at the surface will attract thieving alligators who will steal your fish off your line.

You’ll need to bring your catch in slowly, so minimal splashing. Quietly bring it out of the water. When you are releasing your catch, check for alligators just under the water, and do not place your hands into the water with the fish.

Keeping things quiet will ensure that both you and your fish stay safe.


Alligator attacks on kayaks are very rare. Alligators do not typically associate humans with food and simply leave them be.

However, if an alligator feels threatened or its babies are in danger, it will lash out in defense. Additionally, if you feed an alligator, it will begin to associate humans with food and be more likely to attack a kayak looking for more food.

You will prevent an attack with proper vigilance and leave enough space between you and an alligator.

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