1. If you are on land, try to get on the alligator’s back and put downward pressure on its neck. This will force its head and jaws down.
2. Cover the alligator’s eyes. This will usually make it more sedate.
3. If you are attacked, go for the eyes and nose. Use any weapon you have, or your fist.
4. If its jaws are closed on something you want to remove (for example, a limb), tap or punch it on the snout. Alligators often open their mouths when tapped lightly. They may drop whatever it is they have taken hold of, and back off.
5. If the alligator gets you in its jaws, you must prevent it from shaking you or rolling over—these instinctual actions cause severe tissue damage. Try to keep the mouth clamped shut so the alligator does not begin shaking.
6. Seek medical attention immediately, even for a small cut or bruise, to treat infection. Alligators have a huge number of pathogens in their mouths.
How to Avoid an Attack
While deaths in the United States from alligator attacks are rare, there are thousands of attacks and hundreds of fatalities from Nile crocodiles in Africa and Indopacific crocodiles in Asia and Australia. A few tips to keep in mind:
1. Do not swim or wade in areas alligators are known to inhabit (in Florida, this can be anywhere).
2. Do not swim or wade alone, and always check out the area before venturing in.
3. Never feed alligators.
4. Do not dangle arms and legs from boats, and avoid throwing unused bait or fish from a boat or dock.
5. Do not harass, try to touch, or capture any alligator.
6. Leave babies and eggs alone. Any adult alligator will respond to a distress call from any youngster. Mother alligators guarding nests and babies will defend them.
7. In most cases the attacking alligators had been fed by humans prior to the attack. This is an important link—feeding alligators seems to cause them to lose their fear and make them more aggressive.