Do Alligators Attack Kayaks? – (Why wouldn’t they?)

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Do Alligators Attack Kayaks? 

  • Yes, keep a minimum of 30 feet away from alligators

Over the years, I have taken out my kayak for various outdoor activities such as fishing and bird watching.

There were times when I would paddle through the marshes and swamps, only to find myself kayaking with alligators. 

Nevertheless, I have never allowed the presence of this creature to discourage my motivation for angling.

After all, the presence of alligators is an indication that there is plenty of fish. 

When kayaking in such an environment, it is crucial to remember that we are just a visitor in the alligator’s kingdom.   

But, why do alligators attack kayaks?

It is one of the common questions for many kayakers, especially for beginners. 

The rate of alligator attacks seems relatively low, but they can be aggressive toward kayakers sometimes, and the attacks can be fatal.

Then, what do we do if one of these apex creatures attacks our kayaks? If you want to more on these aspects, then continue reading this write-up.

Remember that kayaking can be more fun and safe than driving on the road as long as we follow specific protocols. 

Understanding kayaks 

Kayaks are quite smaller than conventional watercraft. It comes in a variety of sizes and types, depending on the intended use, but most kayaks feature a closed deck that covers the legs and can hold up to two paddlers.

In the past, the Inuit makes use of kayaks chiefly for fishing and hunting. Nowadays, we can use it for various purposes, and it has come under the umbrella of sports known as kayaking.

Kayaks are low to the water, and controlling it requires the use of a double-bladed paddle with the paddler facing forward.

 Depending on the number of paddlers, a kayak can range around 15 feet to 20 feet in length. 

Basic types of kayaks 

Modern kayaks have evolved into specialized types based on their applications. Broadly, there are two categories of kayaks, namely, sit-in and sit-on.

The former allows controlling the kayak by sitting inside the hull, but the latter features seats on the top of the kayak.

Both of these variations have advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, a kayak with sit-on will offer sufficient sunlight, while we will have substantial control over a kayak with a sit-in. 

When it comes to its designs, a kayak handles specific conditions.

Some kayaks are for racing, while others are for use on white water.

Besides, popular spots for kayaking include lakes, oceans, and rivers. 

When Do Alligators Attack Kayaks

Though alligators attacking kayaks is not significant, it does not mean that they will never attack. 

If the alligators feel threatened, then they will surely attack. 

To ensure safety around alligators, experts suggest keeping a distance up to 30 feet away when kayaking around alligators.

Irritating the alligators or getting too close will only provoke them. We should not assume that alligators are passive creatures.

Although alligators rarely chase after humans, they can outrun our paddles when they do. 

Over the year, I have grown to enjoy watching the alligators while kayaking.

If I happen to find myself closer with any of the alligators, then my only choice is to paddle away from the alligators without making any sudden moves.  

Then, how do we stay away from any potential attack of alligators? For us to know this aspect, we need to understand some of the essential behaviors of alligators, which will help us to identify any warning signs, thereby keeping us safe.  

Understanding alligators and their aggressiveness 

Alligators are a wild animal; as such, the male can become extremely territorial, especially during mating season.

Generally, they are more aggressive during this season. Kayakers should visit any alligator area during mating season at their risks.  

Once they mate, the female alligators will look for a suitable area around the water to build a nest.

They will guard their nest throughout the incubation period to ensure that other animals do not steal their eggs.

Their instinct to protect the eggs makes them aggressive; hence, visiting the nest to have a closer look would not be the best action.

The same goes for visiting the young alligator. It is worth noting that where there are young alligators, there will always be mother alligators to protect the young ones. 

These are some conditions that can contribute to aggressive behavior in alligators.  

Some warning signs of alligators 

One of the typical behaviors of alligators is going inside the water when the paddlers approach. This action can either be aggression or defense.

The reason is that they probably see kayakers as a potential threat. Based on my experience, less human accustomed alligators tend to slip into the water faster.

This action is one of the warning signs that kayakers should watch out. 

Another warning sign of alligators relates to not retreating when the kayakers approach. Note that a female alligator guarding its nest and eggs will never abandon.

Instead, they can become aggressive and start hissing when approached by kayakers. If it happens, then it would be best to move away slowly from the alligators.  

What to do if alligators approach 

Alligators approach kayakers due to two reasons. One reason is that visitors have fed them before, thereby making them accustomed to humans.

As such, experts recommend never feeding alligators as it can draw them very close, thereby increasing the risk for severe accidents.

Another reason is that they are aggressive. In both conditions, there are risks of encountering attacks.

If an alligator approaches us, then we should make loud noises by hitting the side of the kayak with the paddle to scare them off.

Besides, it is advisable to carry an air horn for such situations. 

Essential Safety Tips 

Kayaking with alligators is safe as long as we maintain a reasonable amount of distance. However, here some essential safety tips that I always keep in mind when kayaking in areas with alligators: 

Do not feed them 

One of the essential tips relates to not feeding the alligators. Feeding them will only draw the alligators close to the kayak, thereby increasing the risk of attacks.

Feeding the alligators while kayaking can also have long-term issues, such as drawing their attention when other kayakers visit the same area. 

Give them sufficient space 

Providing sufficient space to the alligators is another safety tip, especially when kayaking around territorial males and nesting females. 

Do not ever think of visiting its nest. Besides, look out for any hissing sounds, which can indicate that we are quite close to the alligators.

The only option is to back away slowly from the alligators, thereby providing them with more space. 

Remember to stay away from young ones to avoid the mother’s wrath.   

Always stay in the center 

Another essential safety tip is to avoid overhanging trees, logs, floating vegetation, and other related areas, especially when kayaking in the bayou.

Usually, alligators camouflage for prey in these types of areas.  

Keep pets away 

There is no harm in taking pets when kayaking in some waters. But, I do not recommend doing the same around alligators as small animals are an easy target.  


It is not impossible to share the waters with alligators but I say, why risk it. You are there to enjoy yourself. If you have to worry about getting bloody eating alive, then I’m guessing you’re not really having all that much fun… are you.

Head over somewhere else with your kayak and keep it safe. Have fun and always be aware of your surroundings.

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