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I've heard that running in a zig-zag pattern makes it more difficult for the alligator to keep up with you. Is that true?

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  • 2
    the mythbusters did this one: discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/…
    – Justin C
    Feb 5, 2015 at 3:27
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    Presumably, you only need to run faster than your companion :-)
    – Andrew
    Feb 5, 2015 at 10:38
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    @Andrew, I see now why people are asking me to hike with them...
    – bobbym
    Sep 9, 2016 at 3:36
  • This is the most intriguing question I have ever seen on TGO. Is the OP planning a trip to a crocodile-infested African river? Or does he just (yawn) live in Florida?
    – ab2
    Mar 7 at 20:21

3 Answers 3

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Just run. Alligators (and crocodiles) are cold blooded and as a result don't have a lot of stamina. Warm blooded animals can maintain high energy output for longer periods.

If you want to aim for something other than 'away from the alligator', go for high ground. That will lessen your chance of ending up in the water where the gator has a better chance of catching you.

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    Cold blooded animals have plenty of stamina to last through a fight to the death; If an alligator/croc can wrestle for hours with a wildebeest to victory, it could definitely handle a measly human. Feb 5, 2015 at 5:56
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They can't run for long periods. They have brief sprints up to about 12mph so you can outrun one, especially if you keep going.

That said, alligators don't attack humans. From this LA Times article:

Alligator attacks are still extremely rare. In fact, the likelihood of a Florida resident being injured in an unprovoked alligator attack is roughly one in 2.4 million, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

But if you do provoke one, all the advice suggests forgetting about swerving - just run fast, and away from water.

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  • Can you expand on why "away from water" ? Is it the danger of other alligators, or do they swim faster than you can move in water?
    – Criggie
    Apr 1, 2017 at 4:21
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    It's both. Alligators are amazing predators in water (humans are pretty terrible in water) but they can also lunge at high speed from hiding in water to attacking prey on land.
    – Rory Alsop
    Apr 1, 2017 at 6:44
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It's basically not an issue.

Alligators are ambush predators, they're not going to chase you in the first place. If you're in strike range you're not going to have a chance to run if they come for you, if you're not in strike range they won't try.

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