Those harboring fears of running from a charging alligator can ease their minds, according to DNR wildlife biologist Dean Harrigal.
Harrigal said that the most an alligator might do in pursuit of a human is lunge.
“They’re not going to chase you 40 yards across a field,” said Harrigal. “I’ve heard tell of them coming up the bank a short distance after something, but they’re not going to run after you.”
Alligators tend to lunge at things they associate with prey, so small dogs can invite interest. They will also lunge at people to protect their nests and young. But their behavior isn’t always predictable.
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“Sometimes they’re just having a bad day,” said Harrigal.
According to South Carolina Parks report, a SCDNR expert who has trapped more than 2,000 alligators in 17 years, has not had a single alligator, that wasn't cornered, move aggressively toward him. Bigger gators shy more readily, that's how they lived to be so big.
It’s a good rule of thumb to stay at least 15 feet from an alligator, experts say.
You’ll often hear that you should run zigzag in the rare occasion that you’re being chased by an alligator. South Carolina Parks experts say this is a common misconception.
“If an alligator does make an aggressive charge, run fast and straight (away from the alligator, of course). They usually do not run very far. But remember they are most likely to charge at you if you are near their nest,” the SC Parks report says.
Also remember, alligators can climb, as we learned in April when a giant alligator climbed a 15-foot staircase and scared the heck out of people in the Charleston area.