How Common Are Alligator-on-Human Injuries/Fatalities in the US?

From what I can tell, gators are territorial yet reclusive critters who will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Of course, there’s always the dumb Redneck who will jump into a gator-infested pond; or the dumb tourist who will try to hand-feed his Chicken McNuggets to a gator.

So, what are the statistics for alligator-on-human attacks? Are there any seemingly random attacks (meaning: the gator wandered out of its pond and ate a toddler), or do they all involve some degree of human stupidity?

When I lived on Hilton Head in 1994, there was a woman who had been attacked (prior to my living there; not sure how long before) while walking along a path next to a pond. The alligator leaped out onto the bank at her - she was not in the water. I know her injuries were extensive enough that she was in a wheelchair months later and I believe the gator had taken one arm. I can’t remember for sure.

There was also an idiot who jumped into the lagoon - the known-to-be-heavily infested lagoon - to escape the police. The alligators killed him.

Here’s another stor about someone attacked by a gator on HH:

I’d say that they are about as common as being struck by lightning.
I have jumped into a gator infested pond. To catch a gator. (I am a herpetologist.)

I lived in Florida for awhile, and while I’m no herpetologist in my experience they aren’t reclusive creatures that will “leave you alone as long as you leave them alone.”

Reptiles in my experience tend to go after anything they can fit in their mouth when they are hungry, and not do much of anything when they are full.

I’ve never noticed alligators being any different. I’ve had several rush at me out of seemingly calm streams or rivers while fishing.

I would fear shark attack more than alligator attack (in different locales, obviously).

Just a slight hijack here and probably something IlsaLund is qualified to answer.
Would crocodile attacks be more severe and more lethal? Besides the pointier nose and a few teeth that show through the closed mouth, to me the most important alligator / crocodile difference is that crocodiles are much more aggressive, vicious, violent, etc. Any truth to this? Also, the USA I believe does have a few “crocs” doesn’t it?
*IlsaLund, I admire your courage in actively pursuing alligators in your research.

Research? Heh, I was on a field trip and we wanted to hold a gator! (But we were students of trained professionals!:D)
At any rate, fatalities from Estuarine Crocodiles on the Nile occur at a far higer rate than any other crocodilians anywhere else, IIRC. I believe that it is a slightly higher complacency around humans combined with the obviously higher human/croc contact rates in the river. Not to mention that Estuarine crocs are the biggest, baddest mofo crocodilians on the planet. :smiley: I have heard anecdotal evidence for aggression in crocs; I’m not sure how valid it is, or if any experimental data exists.

There aren’t many croc attacks in the States simply because there aren’t very many crocs at all. They are restricted to a small area in the Everglades and surrounding land at the very southern tip of Florida.

Estuarine, or Saltwater, Crocodiles Crocodyus porosus do not occur in the Nile but rather from southeast Asia to Australia. The crocodile that occurs in the Nile, appropriately enough, is the Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus, which is also found of most of the rest of Africa.

Both of these are very large, very aggressive species which sometimes prey on large mammals, and are well known as man-eaters. An acquaintance of mine lost a forearm to a Nile croc in Zaire when it attacked her while she was bathing in a river near camp (in the same spot where I had done so about 10 days earlier.)

The American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus is smaller and mainly eats fish. It is a much less aggressive beast and there are few reports of attacks on humans, although friend of mine was bitten here in Panama when he swam near what was probably a nesting beach. There are only a couple of recorded cases of fatal attacks on humans in Panama.

More info on crocodilians here.

There are fourteen species of crocodiles (family Crocodildae), and these vary a great deal in size, aggressiveness, and danger to humans. There are also eight species of alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae), some of which are also dangerous, and one of gavial, or gharial (family Gavialidae).

I don’t think that the conformation of the jaws makes much difference as to how lethal an alligator vs. crocodile attack would be - the most important factor is the size and aggressiveness of the beast. However, the slender jaws of the gavial and some of the more slender-snouted crocs make them less capable of attacking humans efectively.

And additional info on crocs from Cecil (with a contribution from me) here: Do crocodiles shed tears? (revisited)

To specifically answer the OP, according to this site there have been a total of about 200 “unprovoked” attacks by alligators in the U.S. since 1948, of which 13 resulted in fatalities.

D’oh! :smack: Of course you are right, Colibri. Got to make sure I have my facts straight.