Best Handgun/Caliber for FL Alligator Defense ?


May 15, 2006, 11:56 PM
How and where to shoot (Brain?) an Alligator?
For those in Florida who don't want to be
on the food chain list second from top.

What caliber would it take - what do the wildlife people use?
Real experiences only please, no fantasy stuff.

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May 16, 2006, 12:19 AM
An alligators brain is about the size of a walnut, and would be an extremely difficult target if one was coming at you! Really the best thing to fend off an alligator with is a stout stick at least five feet long. I work with gators and all we use is a corn broom, but carrying a corn broom about may look a bit silly so just go with a nice walking stick. Poke it in the snout or give it a good rap on the head, but mostly use it to keep the gator away.

Shooting a gator, anywhere other than in the brain, may just result in a very PO'd gator.

P.S. The pros in South Africa routinely use .22 shorts to dispatch captured crocodiles. The bullet will penetrate the brain cavity, but not pass through the skull. Just goes to show that shot placement is everything.

May 16, 2006, 03:12 AM
Believe it or not , I have an Aussie friend who uses a 9MM Glock on their salt water crocs , needless to say she finds its performance 'underwhelming' and 'unreassuring' her words . Now she wants to trade me for one of my 357 Mags revolvers (It had to be on Australia's approved weapon list ) . Other wise a 12 GA shotgun loaded with slugs would be the ticket for me .

May 16, 2006, 09:05 AM
1. The alligator is a federally protected species so if you shoot one be prepared to be prosecuted in federal court. You will likely have to prove that you really needed to shoot it and it's going to cost you many thousands of dollars even if you win. It will cost about five years if you lose.

2. An alligator attack is not a liesurely thing. You generally don't have time to consider a proper response whan attacked by a gator since it happens with explosive speed so packing a handgun would probably be of little or no use. If you get attacked, that means you went too close to his hunting area and he will have the advantage of surprise. If the attack is successful and he gets ahold of you, it's very unlikely that having any sort of pistol will help. The typical attack involves grabbing the victim by a leg and quickly dragging him or her into the water. Few animals killed by crocadillians are bitten to death, they are drowned. The animal will roll and twist, thrashing the victim around to disorient him and speed up the drowning process. Picture having a 10 foot gator clamped on your lower leg. Within two seconds you're under water being spun around and slammed against the bottom and other handy submerged objects. You gonna draw that .44 Magnum and get off well aimed shots?

3. The best gator defense is avoidance. The best way to avoid gator attacks is to not enter his hunting area. Simply stay 15 feet back from the edge of any canal, stream, pond or any other body of water where a gator might be lurking and you will have no trouble. Gators hunt right at the water's edge. They will not venture out into the Middle of a field looking for food. Those encountered away from water are migrating to a new pond and away from the water gators are easily spotted and avoided. If you shoot one you see wandering about in the open, please go back to point #1.

Why is our first response to problems with animals always "How do I kill it?" instead of "How do I avoid the trouble?" A gator will not come looking for you. If you stay out of his "house" you will never be attacked.

May 16, 2006, 09:24 AM
SaxonPig, many of us carry arms for defense against large wildlife for the same reason we carry arms for defense against violent criminals. The need to use either is extremely remote, as long as we try to avoid high-risk situations. Remote, but NOT impossible!

As I once saw posted in another forum, "No animal eats me and lives!"

May 16, 2006, 09:46 AM
Hey SaxonPig! Two thumbs up!

Dale Taylor
May 16, 2006, 11:19 AM
Saxon pig is beautifully correct. I live in Fl. Poachers carry a .22. A rifle to head works.

May 16, 2006, 11:23 AM

Well said. The very idea that you'd get a shot off if attacked by a gator is just silly. If you avoided the critter's jaws you'd better be beating feet to higher ground.

If you've got an agressive gator on your suburban property you're better off calling the police or fish and wildlife folks than bouncing rounds off the water (or it's skull) into the neighbor's back yard. If you've got rural property with such a critter then I'd expect something like a 12 guage slug or 30-30 or better is best.

As to "we carry guns for self defense" doesn't mean that we discard awarness and knowledge because we've got a "hog leg" strapped on. We don't wander into gang territory just because we carry a gun nor should we ignorantly ignore the territory of anyother critter.

May 16, 2006, 12:28 PM
A gator will not come looking for you. If you stay out of his "house" you will never be attacked.
Maybe I'm wrong...but doesn't most of Florida mandate that all outdoor pools have a perimeter prevent unwanted gator guests from taking a dip in suburban pools?
Like I said, maybe I'm wrong about that...

Justin R
May 16, 2006, 01:31 PM

May 16, 2006, 01:42 PM
Another Floridian here, absolutely agreeing with and complying with Saxonpigs comments. It is my understanding that Florida law mandates swimming pool fences to attempt to keep children out of the pool.

May 16, 2006, 01:57 PM
I have a pool in Florida and the fence is to prevent children from drowning.

Gators usually stay away from people but they can be in any free flowing fresh water in Florida. Even in the city. They are also more agressive and move around more looking for new territory during mating season.

It's best to avoid them but they have been known to get into yards and garages. They can also climb chain link fences and go after your pets. They are also suspected in the disapearance of fishermen.

You can't always avoid them but if they catch you in the water you aren't likely to win unless someone is there to help you. On land they aren't as capable of killing as in the water.

Like what was said above they are protected and I wouldn't shoot one unless you absolutely had to. Even then you probably won't be able to shoot it yourself if it catches you in the water. I would just learn to watch out for them and avoid them.

May 16, 2006, 02:01 PM
The fence is to prevent children from drowning.
Gotta say, that makes alot more sense. The person who told me it was about gators...well, let's just say she's not a lawyer...but she makes good cookies. :)

May 16, 2006, 03:57 PM
I think the proper handgun would be whichever one makes it too uncomfortable for you to sit at the edge of a canal or pond, especially one that causes pain in your legs or arms when you attempt to dangle them over the water.

I'm not sure I'd change calibers just for gator as long as it's a "major".

May 16, 2006, 04:18 PM
HMMM. Is the threat real? How many people are mauled, or killed by gators a year? I seem to remember one person coming home, and finding an alligator under the car. Are there a lot of them?

Sure sounds like it puts a new angle in water sports there.

I should talk. I surf in the Red Triangle, famous for white sharks.


May 16, 2006, 04:24 PM
Looks like the cops can shoot them:

note, it took 2 shots from a .223

May 16, 2006, 04:46 PM
2 people were attacked by alligators here in Florida last week. One was a very good looking young model jogging on a local path. She was killed. I just moved to Fla. 6 weeks ago and let me tell you, there are a sheit load of alligators here. From lakes to on golf coarse's ( seriously). Most of them don't seem overly aggressive but when one is near, golfing area or not, you stay away. Though, even exercising common sense, an alligator attack may come out of no where. Alligators adapt very well and travel down here in underground waterways from pond to lake to anywhere there is water.

I anticipate alligator attacks to become much more frequent due to the unbelievable amount of " suburban sprall" here. The more humans encroach in to nature land, the more the risk for attacks.

To answer the original question I would use/carry the strongest caliber possible that you can carry/ reasonably conceal down here given the extremely hot and humid weather. I only wear shorts and a tee-shirt and usually only carry a mouse gun, but hey it's better than nothing-maybe:D .

May 16, 2006, 05:21 PM
Somehow, I knew it was only a matter of time. :D

Many, many years ago, as a teenager, I got the bright idea to thumb to Florida and go to work on a charter boat. I got down to Florida in around 18 hours from Va. in the middle of the night. I was supposed to meet a charter boat captain the next morning, so I decided to camp out at the rest stop my last ride dropped me at. I walked back to the wildlife fence, unrolled my air matress and jumped in my sleeping bag. All night long, I heard some kind of animals moving around down the embankment but I had no idea what they were. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep. The next morning I was suprised to see all the alligators in the canal below me. I've always wondered if I'd still be around if that fence hadn't been there. I had a .22 revolver with me, but I doubt it would have done much good if I'd went down that bank.

Florida was really great, back then. I doubt I'd even recognize it, now. A deputy sheriff gave me a ride to the marina the next morning. I imagine I would have been busted for vagrancy and a concealed weapon, nowadays.

May 16, 2006, 05:42 PM
HMMM. Is the threat real? How many people are mauled, or killed by gators a year? I seem to remember one person coming home, and finding an alligator under the car. Are there a lot of them?

No, it's quite uncommon and I sure don't lose sleep over it. We got gators out the wazz down here and I think the last guy I heard of killed by one was about 20 years ago. He was swimming a small lake. Rule one, don't go swimmin' with gators.

I've duck hunted the same pothole that a gator was hanging out in during teal season and didn't get harassed. He swam out toward my deeks once and I let him have some no. 4 steel to keep my deeks safe. He didn't seem to appreciate it and went off down the slough. :D

As was said, kill a gator out of season without a permit and you'll probably get 30 days in the electric chair...:banghead: I'd think you'd have a better chance killing a man. At least the self defense argument might hold water. :banghead:

May 16, 2006, 06:27 PM
Besides the two last week that were mentioned, in two separate places, I know of one other this year. Last week they found a Gator with a woman's arm in it's belly. I don't know whether or not it was related to one of the known incidents. I remember at least one a year for some time now. One of the major problems is people interacting with Gators, feeding etc. The gators lose their fear of man and often that precipitates an attack. It seriously against the law in Fla. to feed a Gator.

May 16, 2006, 08:05 PM
My state, Alabama is trying to get a hunting season on gators, and now that 3 women have been killed by gators in a week, Florida is going to have open season on them I bet. There are too many people invading the gators territory and some are going to pay the price.

May 16, 2006, 08:16 PM
Dont forget the scores of pythons (Burmese and the green anaconda?) lurking in Florida's water ways, either way swimming is definitely off my list the next time im in Florida:eek:

May 16, 2006, 09:07 PM
I echo the sentiments of the others who said carrying a handgun for this is not very practical. Staying away from the water is the best policy. Any inland body of water in Florida may contain alligators. Assume they are there.

I am in a line of work that brings me into contact with them regularly. This often involves walking into the water in rubber boots or stooping at the edge to scoop up water. Entering their strike zone is part of the daily routine. Our company has guys doing this stuff all day every day all over the state and has for 30 years. Believe it or not, no one has ever been attacked by an alligator, and much more amazing to me, never been tagged by a snake either. We get way, way, way more exposure to it than just about anybody, so there's some perspective for you. A guy drowned once and there have been ATV and airboat accidents, but not one alligator grab.

There are various things I do to minimize the chances of an attack, but for the great majority of folks, staying clear of the water's edge is pretty failsafe. And keep anything important to you away too. I have been amazed with people tossing things into the water as part of a game of fetch with their dog, or with small children allowed to play in risky places. On a side note, I spotted over 20 cottonmouths in one lake within about 1 hour, and there appeared to be a nesting area with several just 6 or 7 lots down from where I saw several children running around barefoot in the backyard, near the water. I promptly stopped the boat and got their mother's attention and told her what I'd been seeing!

As a side note, people swimming in places other than the safety of a swimming pool take on another serious risk, which I call "mucking in". It is easy to get your feet caught in the right sedimentary soup and get yourself trapped and continue to sink. You had better believe there are times you cannot pull your feet free when it is halfway up a 15" or so boot. Imagine being in to your waist. You're not going anywhere. A construction worker here in Jacksonville died that way about a year ago. He thought it would be a good way to cool off on a really hot day.

Anyway, as alligators go, generally I have not found them to be aggressive toward me. Mostly they just want to get away. Yes, they do like to follow you around some times, but they keep their distance for the most part. I believe the following behavior is from curiousity, but I still always remind myself that it would be foolish to present them with any opportunities, because they may take one if it is given.

I have had a few that simply will not move and when I bring the boat around I corner them when I pass by. I have had occasions where I could reach out and touch some of those. None of those made a threat display when cornered. However, when on foot, I have had a few get testy and give me warnings. What they have done is get kinda close and make a loud splash, submerge, and pop up to watch me from a few feet farther out. Once this happened very close and behind me and a bit to the side, so that I barely caught it with the peripheral vision. That one could have had me had it wanted to. Although it wasn't a large gator, do not think that a smallish gator cannot beat you in its own element.

They are indeed very common on golf courses. I often treat golf course properties. Just recently I motored around the bend to the boat trailer and maybe 50 ft from the trailer I interrupted two of them trying to make more alligators. :-)

I take them seriously. I do what I can to avoid confrontation. However, I am many times over more concerned with cottonmouths than I ever will be with alligators. Alligators generally move away and often make themselves known (if you get used to looking). A cottonmouth will, more often than not, hold its ground and let you walk right on top of it.

I heard one of the victims recently was a female jogger in her 20's, in the Gainesville area I believe. I can tell you that Lake Ashley at the University of Florida is chock full of them. Haven't seen all the details, but I wonder if it was around there.

May 16, 2006, 09:19 PM
The most recent young lady jogger was the owner of the arms that were found.

The last witness sighting of her had her sitting in the shade under a bridge dangling her feet over the canal the gator was found in.

So, she was "out jogging" but probably wasn't actually run down by the gator but rather was attacked/grabbed while sitting/resting near the water and dragged in.

May 16, 2006, 09:20 PM
For a pistol that can be carried practically? 10mm. With 180 gr. FMJ, it will penetrate nearly as deep as the big magnums (.454, .50, etc) but without the recoil (or the oversized guns that fire such cartidges) and having twice the capacity. Not that I've ever gone after them, but the key thing with Crocodilians seems to be penetration through their very tough skin.

May 16, 2006, 09:26 PM
Florida is going to have open season on them I bet. There are too many people invading the gators territory and some are going to pay the price.

At the risk of sounding like a tree hugger, people are encroaching on their habitat and the GATORS have to go???? Well, whatever, I guess so.

I think it's much paranoia about nothing, though. I have swam around here in lakes where gators reside, rivers, fish all over the place. I've played chase the fishing cork with 'em. :D They ain't comin' up out of the water like a crock, don't happen. The attacks I know about were swimmers, so stay away from wild areas where there are gators for your swimming holes. They ain't gonna come a huntin' you at the campground swimming area. Heck, the local reservoir, lake Texana if any from Texas knows it, is full of gators and there's skiers, jet skis, swimmers out there all the time. Stay out in the open water or in the campground swimming area and you're fine. There are some places I don't swim over there. We had our pontoon/house boat docked at the marina over there for three summers and I'd sit out on the dock and watch the gators. One idiot hand fed one Cheetos all the time, despite warnings not to. That one coulda become a problem gator. He was about 3 feet at the time. But, as much activity as there is on that lake and as many gators as are in that lake, there's never been an incident with 'em there. I ran jug lines out in the lake when I'd go stay on the boat down there, take my little boat to do that. I was always in or on the water there. I fish all the time. I've never had a problem. I've almost stepped on snakes more'n once. I always look where I'm walkin, though. Saved a buddy from a cottonmouth once, too. He hasn't let me forget it. LOL He almost stepped right in the middle of that thing. We were duck hunting early in the season. I shot the snake's head off and we checked out the fangs, like little hypo needles. Wouldn't wanna get hit with that thing. I've had run ins with rattlers down here, too, lots of 'em. I worry a lot more about getting snake bit than alligator bit. I know people that have been snake bit, not a fun experience. I worry more about stepping on a sting ray or bumping into a man-o-war (that's not a fun experience, trust me!) than getting alligator bit.

Use your head, don't swim in wild areas where there are gators. But, you don't have to stay 50 feet away from all shorelines to be safe. You have much more chance of being struck by lightening than getting alligator bit, more chance of getting into it with a bear, more chance of getting in a wreck on the way to your fishing hole, more chance of getting in a plane crash, more chance of slipping in the shower and killing yourself, etc, etc, etc. Tens of thousands of people fish these waters around here every day. I'm going tomorrow night, drum run has started. I know of ONE alligator attack in 20 or so years.:rolleyes: Don't provoke 'em, don't be stupid, avoid getting close to 'em, but there's no need to be totally paranoid, either.

May 16, 2006, 09:37 PM
BTW, a common way they're hunted down here is to set a BIG hook on a drop line with a chunk of chicken or something big on it, like drop line fishing for catfish. When the gator hooks himself, you dispatch him with a suitable revolver/handgun. I've known five or six guys that have taken gators. They all used .357 mag revolvers. The weren't gun types, though, just hunters. I think that's probably just what they had. Ain't like they were getting attacked, just had to put the thing out of it's misery.

Alligator hunting is done by draw permit in Texas. I've never tried to get a tag, really have no desire to shoot a gator. Ain't like you're stalkin' it or anything. It's more like fishing, to me, than hunting.

May 16, 2006, 09:47 PM
I would just add that we have to be mindful of the encroachment issues. Alligators made a very dramatic comeback after being protected. We are spreading out and into their hangouts while their numbers are surging and they are running out of room. My point is that it is not just wild areas we need to be wary of any more. Most of the places I see them are not what I'd call wild. I see them all the time and I am there because someone is paying us to be there to make that lake or pond behind their house look pretty.

May 16, 2006, 10:26 PM
There's probably more of 'em in settled areas in Florida than anywhere else do to the overpopulation of humans there. What I meant by "wild", though, is like at the lake here. Swim around the Marina, not out at the island off the shoreline. Gators are always around that island. They have a nice marked off swimming area at the campground there and everything is mowed around it.

There aren't any gators in town, here, but a couple miles down the shoreline and you're apt to see one. Head of the bay there's a big marsh where there are gators. It's about 4 miles as the boat flies from my house. It's a big ranch there, not much population. I fish there all the time. In late summer the redfish are spawning up in there and it's shallow. You can see packs of fins cutting the water, almost like hunting 'em. It's too neat to NOT go there to fish just cause there's a few gators. I've never heard of a problem with a gator out there, either.

I just think, like the shark scare last year, people get all crazy over a few attacks. Couple of weeks ago there was a bear attack in Tennessee. All of a sudden there's posts on "best handgun for bear", like that one hasn't been discussed to death. :rolleyes: :D I'm not going to quit fishing cause there's gators all around me and some jogger in Florida got ate, all I'm sayin'.

May 16, 2006, 10:51 PM
Gator attacks happen but are fairly rare. I think I heard that there have been 374 in FL since 1970? But that figure might include people who were scared by the sudden appearance of a gator since only like 16 attacks were fatal.

I still think a handgun would not be too useful. Either you jump back out the gator's reach or you don't.

rcbair- I go armed when I think it will help. I doubt that any pistol carried concealed would be a real value if a gator grabs you.

May 16, 2006, 11:08 PM
SaxonPig, I heard a far lower number, and over a greater number of years. It was, I believe, 17 fatal gator attacks in Florida since 1948. Then there were another 9 cases not officially listed as attacks because they could not determine if the person died by gator attack or beforehand and then the gator just found the body. I have seen an article that claims there have been 25 fatal attacks in FL since 1948, and I believe they just lumped in the unofficial stuff with the confirmed ones (prior to the first of the three recent incidents).

EDIT: Found a website that lists the attacks in FL at 351 from 1948-2005. Only 16 were fatal, and it is vague (were these attacks on people, their dogs, etc.). What opens your eyes is that out of 391 recorded nationally, 351 were in Florida. :what: I am a little suspicious of the data because I believe the success rate for the gators would be higher. Again, perhaps these are not all bona fide attacks (did it simply put on a threat display, was it unprovoked, did it really attempt to stalk/bite?), and perhaps many were not on people. The same site lists a much higher number of shark attacks for the same period, which I seriously doubt!

May 16, 2006, 11:14 PM
Alaska has 0 gator attacks. I can't explain the other 40. ;)

May 16, 2006, 11:22 PM
LOL! Yeah, not many gators up there, huh? If you can believe the data I've seen, all of the listed attacks come from just 6 states. AL, FL, GA, SC, LA, and TX.

May 17, 2006, 09:12 AM
Well, what Alaska lacks in reptilians, it more'n makes up for in man eating mammals. :what: :D

SaxonPig, I heard a far lower number, and over a greater number of years. It was, I believe, 17 fatal gator attacks in Florida since 1948.

That's the quote I heard, too. I didn't hear the non-fatal "attack" number. But, as you point out, what exactly do they consider an "attack"?

Oh, well, I've always got a gun on me. Livin' with critters is just part of the fun of life for me. I like seein' a big gator in the wild. They're cool beasts, just don't mess with 'em.:D Something primordial about 'em, like steppin' back 70 million years and meeting a T. Rex.

Ah, now, what handgun would be appropriate for a T. Rex? Ah, never mind...:rolleyes: :D

May 17, 2006, 09:20 AM
That's why I said "I think" because I wasn't sure of those numbers. They were what I thought I heard but I could have heard wrong or not rememebred right.

I did not know there were gators in TX!!! I was surprised to learn there were some in AR and I never considered TX as gator country.

May 17, 2006, 10:01 AM
Texas is a big state. We got everything from mountains to desert to grasslands to coastal marshes. We got lotsa gators around my neck of the woods. There's a good harvest here every season, someone gets in the paper with a big 'un every year. We're fairly lightly populated around here and there's lots of wild wetlands from around here and south. But, most gator infested Texas swamp I've seen is up around Port Author, JD Murphrey WMA. Man, the place has 'em stacked up waitin' on a human to fall out of an airboat. :D

One thing we don't have a lot of is black bear. They were shot out of this area about the turn of the century. Up in the east Texas piney woods they've been trying to re-establish 'em. Out west, the Big Bend Chisos mountains and up in the Guadelupes, they have good populations. Only other man eating critters we have around here are a VERY few cougar, more out west, but they've been seen around here. We have lotsa hogs, but they're not exactly stalkers of humans, just have a nasty reputation about not wanting to be shot.:D This was one of the last areas of the Red Wolf in north America, now thought to be extinct. I had the very high honor of actually seeing one back in '80 crossing a road on the way to a boat ramp on the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. Back when I was a kid, they used cyanide traps to kill 'em. But, the coyotes moved in and did what cyanide couldn't do by cross breeding them out of existence. It's a shame they're gone, but I reckon it's nature's way in their case. The coyote is the more successful animal in the presence of humans.

Of course, the waters around here starting in June are infested with shark, mostly black tip and lemon sharks, but out in the gulf there's plenty of big bulls and an occasional tiger. I was fishing off Matagorda Island one day in the Pass Cavallo area catching hammerheads and black tips. I'd caught one black tip that went a little over four feet, pretty good sized one. I tranquilized it with my .38 before bringing it in the boat. So, the kid is with me, wants to run up to Sunday beach. We pull up there, the water is crystal clear and there's a guy there with several boys swimming. He says, "You catchin' anything?" I says, "Yeah, caught this right over there, water's infested with 'em. Got a whole cooler full." Was a five shark limit at the time. I held up the big black tip and I thought the guy was goin' to have a heart attack gettin' his kids out of the water. :D :D :D :D :D

May 17, 2006, 10:02 AM
Gators aren't a protected species anymore.
There's just too many of them.


May 17, 2006, 10:25 AM
Up here in Austin I'm more concerned with the :cuss: fire ants.

May 17, 2006, 01:10 PM
What handgun for fire ants? :evil:

Gas Operated
May 17, 2006, 01:42 PM
What handgun for fire ants?
This one:
2.7mm Kolibri

May 17, 2006, 03:44 PM
A couple of random thoughts:

First, gators may very well be a federally protected species, but I have always considered myself to be a personally protected species, ranking higher on the food chain than gators. So, if it comes down to gator or me, I am looking out for me.

Second, in a gator attack, I would much rather be remembered struggling to pull and fire my concealed carry firearm in self defense than I would to be remembered doing no more than kissing my a.. goodbye.


Justin R
May 17, 2006, 03:52 PM
not a .223 :scrutiny:,0,3925745.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

May 17, 2006, 04:44 PM
One thing I have not encountered in my reading on the subject is that any of the places that have these critters feel they have too few.

There was a show on the History Channel or PBS about a town in FL that had protected all gators but changed their policy after a couple of fatal attacks. Big units were identified as the perps in both cases. In that area gators over a certain size [length] are now removed automatically by pros.

That seemed like a logical compromise that balanced the safety of the community with the needs of a wildlife resource. I'm sure the plan got a big thumbs up from all the cats, ducks and Yorkies in the area.


May 17, 2006, 05:54 PM
On Sunday near Bradenton, a woman grabbed a handgun and fired four shots at a 3-foot alligator that attacked her golden retriever. The gator wasn't seriously hurt, but the woman got a warning citation for hunting without a license.


May 17, 2006, 07:26 PM
I'm an FL native, born on the outskirts of the Everglades and I've spent quite a lot of time living back up in the swamp. Aligators are relatively inoffensive even if they are a top predator. I grew up fishing next to them every day as a todler, I respected their distance and I kept off the shoreline. It would be highly irregular for an aligator to attack except if he was in the water lunging towards you on the land, or if you are between him and his avenue of escape. They get 80% of their energy requirements from the sun and most of their diet is turtles and bugs. These are predators, but they don't have mammalian physiology so they don't eat near as much as mammals. An aligator can go a year on a good sized meal if it has to and it can't even digest anything when its cold out because its stomach acid starts to solidify.

A .22 or .22mag will do the trick with shot placement, but the trouble with these guys, again, is that they're reptiles not mammals... they don't always realize they're dead. I've seen them be legal killed, spine severed at the base of the head, still for an hour or two and then come back to life. It's probably just muscle spasms, not that it matters. The attack is 99% avoidable without even placing any demands on you.

That said, I sure am sick of the urbanization down here. I'm not even that old and FL doesn't look anything like it used to, there's very few places you can go to get away from things these days. The East coast is pretty much one big city from Key West on up to the state line. Drought, pollution, invasive species, destruction of wild lands, all the results of overpopulation.

May 17, 2006, 08:41 PM
they don't always realize they're dead. I've seen them be legal killed, spine severed at the base of the head, still for an hour or two and then come back to life. It's probably just muscle spasms, not that it matters.

Sort of like frying frog legs. They hop around in the pan. :D

You get sick of the urban blight there, move west, young man. Lotsa room in the swamps and marshes from Louisiana around to Brownsville. Just kinda gotta skip over Houston. :D Florida would be a fantastic place weren't for all the danged people. I'm with you.;)

I've only been to Florida four times. Twice was racing my motorcycle at the speedway in Daytona in '80 and '81, no time to sight see. Went there as a spectator in '99 and got my first look at the Ocala or whatever it is forest. Wife and I flew in to West Palm Beach and took a boat to Freeport, Bahamas, but all I saw of Florida was from the air that time. Talk about your hurricane bait! Man, there's some expensive homes in the storm surge zone down there! I hope they're insured, cause being a tax payer, I don't wanna have to rebuild 'em on MY dime! Ridiculous. We flew over Okeechobee, too, first time I saw that. But, there ain't a whole lot that don't have something built by man on it, especially the closer you get to the water.

May 18, 2006, 01:04 AM
actually the recent upswing in attacks down here (all whopping 3 or 4) has been largely due to the drought and the lower water lines.

May 18, 2006, 01:30 PM
Copy that on the drought. My place has a half acre pond on it, or used to, it's half the size or less than it normally is, I'm praying for rain. When the water holes dry up ol' el lagarto will will pull anchor and go in search of somewhere with enough water and food to keep him. We only recently got the warm weather back, so also bear in mind these guys haven't been able to eat anything since maybe September on account of the cold's effect on their digestion. There's a number of convergent factors that would bring people in contact with them a little more than usual right now, considering there's a gator in every ditch and every retention pond anywhere here in FL, it's pretty good assurance that the prehistoric beasts aren't really a problem or there'd be a lot more attacks. I'd be willing to bet the coral snake and brown recluse have been as lethal so far this year, though I have no data on that.

Honestly it just wouldn't be Florida without the aligators, even in the city. The fact that they're big dangerous lizards you have to respect is all the more reason to keep'em, they teach us an important lesson about watching where you step and minding your business rather than blundering your way through life with no regard for your neighbors. They're just a part of the Floridian way of living and it unfortunately seems a lot of outsiders/newcomers just don't get it... sort of like that "conservation" group that wants the manateee taken off the endangered species list so they don't have to slow their Cape Hatteras down. The swamp whales are part of the charm, let'em be. If you weren't so busy trying to drive your boat like you drive your car and stopped a moment to take a look you'd see they're actually pretty cool and exactly the kind of thing you want to have around... most especially when you consider that the one and only thing keeping those rivers and cannals free from water hiacynth enough to actually be navigable is those manatees.

It's a real shame whenever somebody, especially a young lady, gets eaten by an aligator. It's also a shame when somebody's released/escaped pet python eats a baby out of it's crib... yes, that happened some years back. My heart really goes out to all those who are effected by such a tragedy, but the answer isn't turning the whole world into some kind of rated-G non-toxic padded rubber Disney World. If you're going to live somewhere be darned sure you know the ins and outs. You can die of heat stroke gardening or working on your lawn down here just because you decided to have some beer instead of water to replace all those fluids you've been sweating out. Never mind other hazards, like lightning.

Hurricanes are a perrenial phenomenon, and again a threat Floridians know how to cope with. Even with all the new arrivals the state has you'll never read about FL going the way of NOLA. Once in a while somebody will get it in their head that it's a good idea to take advantage of the situation by trying to rob people or get some looting in. You always read about these guys the next day, along with a general description of the sort of firearm that laid them low. FWIW, I've noticed it's mostly the island immigrants who try to pull that one, it must be normal in their countries, from the looks of Haiti that certainly appears to be the case. We had a whole carfull pull up into my buddy's place the year before last. They turned around real quick and found somewhere else to be when we walked up to the door with AK and shotgun in hand.

In regards to storm surge zones in Palm Beach County, it isn't as bad as you would think. The continental shelf comes really close to shore out there so there isn't as much chance for the water to stack up. Out here on Tampa Bay it's a whole nother story, we frequently get flooding and just the opposite, Charlie sucked a lot of water out of the Bay for a couple days. How you prepare for the storm has a lot to do with it, too. My dad has a 30 year old trailer on a canal and a storm, cat 2 I believe, came right over his roof. He had all the hatches battened down and double up on his tiedowns and he didn't even lose his screened porch.

I've definately been giving some thought to moving on to greener pastures. I've been living in an apartment downtown for a while and I'm just sick as anything of all the concrete and steel. There's nowhere on my whole island I can go to stretch my legs. My new place is out in the woods on a couple acres and in my estimation offers twice the luxory at a much lower cost.

May 18, 2006, 03:51 PM
Honestly it just wouldn't be Florida without the aligators, even in the city. The fact that they're big dangerous lizards you have to respect is all the more reason to keep'em, they teach us an important lesson about watching where you step and minding your business rather than blundering your way through life with no regard for your neighbors.

Amen! The gators, after all, were there a whole heck of a long time before men of any color encroached on their territory. Statements of killing 'em off because more people are coming in just make me wonder and sigh. When is man going to learn he is PART of nature, not its master???:banghead:

May 18, 2006, 03:55 PM
well put.
It's too bad that people that come here want to change the place they wanted to move to.


May 18, 2006, 04:03 PM
I thoroughly enjoy watching these threads twist and turn over the course of time. This one is the perfect example. It has gone from a fairly straightforward question: "How does one man keep from becoming a part of one alligator?" to the far more philosophical question: "When will man, as a species, accept he is a part of nature and not its master?" I guess that is the beauty of a forum of this type.


May 18, 2006, 04:57 PM
Reptile eats family dog, woman cited for shooting another in self-defense...

May 18, 2006, 07:13 PM
Big predators can be a nuisance, and present a danger. During most of our lifetimes, however, there wern't enough bears, cats, and gators to pose much of a problem. Now many predators are being re-established and gators have reached the point of being more of an infestation. For gators, pools, golf ponds, drainige ditches, and canals don't represent natural habitat. They don't belong there. It might be one thing to stock your pond with fish, but you wouldn't stock it with cotten mouths. Or gators. In a state like Fla. the natural balance is shot to hell. Gator numbers should be monitored and controlled by hunting or comercial harvest. Property owners should be able to determine for themselves if gators belong on their land.
If we are going to protect species, we must be smart about it. We can't just protect a species because it feels good. Where I live, deer have become a problem with their numbers reaching unprecedented levels. People who commute on country roads know it is just a matter of time before they have a possibly fatal encounter with a deer on the road. Sport hunting alone has not been enough to controll their numbers.
Encroachment? We are. Protection of Species? We need it, but lets be pragmatic about it.
As to the original question, any defensive caliber would be a big help. To those who think it would be a futile effort, remember, a gun never assures a win. A gun will make a loss less assured.

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