Contrary to what many may believe, alligators are typically not as aggressive as one might think. Another thing to consider is that alligators are typically less aggressive than crocodiles. Generally, alligators will not attack humans unless they are provoked or feel threatened in some way. The majority of problems including alligators are usually just related to their being in places where they are not wanted. Only a small number have actually involved alligators attacking.
However it should be noted that while alligator attacks on humans are rare, they do occur from time to time. More than 200 unprovoked alligator attacks have been documented since 1948, with a few even resulting in fatality. It is for this very reason that individuals who are living or vacationing in an area where alligators are known to be found , take certain precautions in order to avoid a dangerous encounter.
Individuals should never feed or entice alligators. One of the first things to stress about this, is that it is against the law. Alligators also lose their natural fear of people when they begin to associate food with people. As a result of feeding alligators, people create problems and potential attacks on themselves and others.
Never feed other wildlife near the water where an alligator may reside. Disposing of anything that an alligator could see as a potential meal is crucial, otherwise alligators will not understand that you are not intentionally trying to feed it.
Never let a pet or child swim or run along the shoreline of waters that are known to contain alligators. Alligators are typically attracted to dogs as they are about the same size of the alligator’s natural prey.
If an individual comes across an alligator, and there is no immediate danger the best thing to do is leave the creature alone. Alligators sometimes need to move great distances in order to meet their survival needs and will often show up in undesirable locations such as driveways, backyards and swimming pools. This makes your private property a temporary resting place for the animal. Individuals should consider the following in this case: #1. More than likely the gator will leave on its own. #2. If an alligator is longer than four feet and exhibits aggressive behavior, it is classified as a nuisance and is often harvested for its meat and hide by permitted nuisance trappers. So if you are looking for a more humane way of ridding of the creature, you may just want to stay indoors until the gator leaves.
Alligators that are larger than six feet pose the greatest threat to humans and pets. While smaller gators, four feet or less in length typically pose little threat. However both are still able to deliver a nasty bite that should immediately be checked out by a physician as the bacteria in an alligator’s mouth can easily cause a bite wound to become infected. People should never get closer than 15 feet (5 meters) to an alligator. If an alligator seems aggressive, hisses, or opens its mouth in defense, you should back away.
As mentioned earlier, crocodiles are typically more aggressive, followed by the caiman, and then the alligator and gharial. However, there may also be notable exceptions. For example, the rare American Crocodile is reported to be temperamentally closer to the American Alligator than its nearer relatives. The African Dwarf Crocodile is also known to be exceedingly timid and docile. These traits probably also account for its increasing popularity within the pet trade.
Crocodilians will attack in self defense, to obtain food, and in order to protect their young up to the age of two years after birth. These creatures can become very territorial and dangerous in these types of situations.
The psychological orientation of alligators is fascinating. It appears that alligators tend to regard humans as animals that are larger than themselves, and for this reason will not generally attack a human without some kind of provocation. A small number of incidents have occurred however when their predatory or protective instincts were triggered somehow (mentioned above).