Experts Explain How to Avoid an Alligator Attack

An alligator at the Gator Park in the Florida Everglades May 17, 2006.
An alligator at the Gator Park in the Florida Everglades May 17, 2006. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A family vacation for a couple and their kids turned into a tragedy when an alligator bit and dragged away a 2-year-old boy who was wading in the water of a lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa on Tuesday, June 14. While alligator attacks are relatively infrequent occurrences (there have been 24 human deaths reported in 75 years), here are some ways to protect yourself from the powerful reptiles in the South.

Orange County Sheriff's Marine Unit searched for a young boy Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Orange County Sheriff’s Marine Unit searched for a young boy Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images

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Stay Out of Freshwater Bodies During Spring and Summer Months “Alligators are cold-blooded animals,” says Dr. Deby Cassill, associate professor of biology at University of South Florida St. Petersburg. “During the spring and summer months, the water is warmer, which means the metabolism of the alligators increases, and they need more food.”

Know That Alligators Are Nocturnal “Don’t go in the water once it gets dark. That is probably the biggest, number one thing,” alligator expert Jim Nesci tells Us Weekly. “They are primarily active at night.”

Small Children Are More at Risk According to Dr. Cassill, very few alligators will attack a full-grown human. “They know it’s too big,” the expert tells Us. Sadly, because of his size, the 2-year-old victim in Orlando was the perfect target.

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In the Rare Event That You Are Bitten “Go right for their eyes,” instructs Nesci. “Gators, what they do, a lot of times when they grab prey, they will close their eyes and the big lid kind of pulls the eye into the socket further. What you do is, you go right into the eye socket with your finger and jam it in. That is the way you get them to let loose.”

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