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Can Crocodiles and Alligators Walk Backwards?

Can Crocodiles and Alligators Walk Backwards
Alligator in captivity

Yes, crocodiles and alligators can walk backwards. They rarely do this, and when they do, they use the high-walk instead of the belly crawl.

Many animals cannot walk backwards, and they have no reason to. Crocodilians also have no reason to walk backwards except when they are backing off something, like a bigger predator of their own kind.

Can crocodiles and alligators swim backwards?

Alligator running on land
Alligator running on land

No, crocodiles and alligators cannot swim backwards. They only swim forward. Despite this limitation, crocodiles and alligators are highly agile underwater.

Crocodiles and alligators have webbed feet. This webbing is one of the things that make them move with ease underwater. They also have powerful tails that propel them underwater.

There are many kinds of fish that can swim backwards, such as the triggerfish and salmon. Eels are also great at swimming backwards.

Related Article: Do Alligators Have Webbed Feet?

How do crocodiles and alligators swim?

chinese alligator

When crocodilians swim, they use their tails as a propeller. Without a tail, the crocodile and alligator cannot swim at all.

While gliding underwater, both crocs and gators tuck their feet on their sides. This position makes their bodies less resistant to water.

If the gators and crocs want to move to the side, they use their webbed feet as rudders. The webbed hind feet push more surface area, and it is why it is easy for them to maneuver underwater.

The webbed feet are also helpful in navigating land. Crocs and alligators are semi-aquatic, so they spend so much of their time in the mud. The webbed feet help them push the mud and prevent sinking.

Related Article: Do Alligators Sleep?

How fast can crocodiles and alligators swim?

Saltwater Croc

While both animals are not powerful swimmers, they are still formidable underwater. Crocs and gators are nowhere near the speed of dolphins, sharks, and swordfish. But then, they are not to be trifled with underwater.

A crocodile can swim between 15 and 18 miles per hour. Alligators, on the other hand, can swim for 20 miles per hour.

Apart from swimming, these animals have the ability to conserve oxygen. They can stay underwater for 15 minutes on average. Some studies even show that they can stay underwater for two hours before drowning.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles Mate for Life?

What are the different movements of crocodiles and alligators?

Large crocodile
Large crocodile

Crocodiles and alligators have similar locomotive movements. These movements are walking, galloping, crawling, and swimming.

Walking

Alligators and crocodiles walk on their four limbs. This walk is called the high walk. When they do, their entire body is off the ground. Sometimes, the tail is also off the ground. 

A high walk is a slow gait. Usually, the speed is only between two and three kilometers per hour. In some circumstances, the crocodile or gator can walk at speeds of five kilometers per hour.

There is no clear indication why crocodilians do this. When they do the high walk, they seem to be on the prowl. It is as if they are patrolling their territory.

Galloping

Crocodiles can gallop like a horse, but alligators cannot. Instead, alligators trot, and when they do, they can reach similar speeds to the croc.

In a gallop, the crocodile jumps from its hind legs to lunge forward. It lands on both its front legs; then, the hind legs drop to the ground. From here, the hind legs spring again, making the entire boy lunge forward.

Only small crocs gallop—usually, those that are under six feet long. Scientists have also seen other crocodilians gallop, like the gharial. There was a time when people observed a gator gallop in the middle of a stride, but no gator starts galloping from a stationary position.

Crawling

Crawling is the most common locomotion of crocodiles and alligators. When they do this, their bellies touch the ground. This is also referred to as the belly crawl.

In a belly crawl, the croc or gator resembles a lizard, albeit a giant one. Their limbs are sprawled to the side, and their bodies move in what is known as a sinusoidal manner.

Sinusoidal movement is how snakes move. The crocodile moves its body in an S-shape while dragging itself forward.

The belly crawl is what crocs and gators use locomotion in most of their activities. Examples of these activities are looking for a spot to nest or when finding food.

Related Article: Are Crocodiles and Alligators Scared of Humans?

Can crocodiles and alligators run?

Siamese Crocodile
Siamese Crocodile

Yes, both crocodiles and alligators can run, and they are fast. The thing is that they run in short bursts only because they are too heavy.

Crocodiles are not fast runners, but they can run faster than most humans. Crocodiles can run as fast as 10.5 miles per hour or 17 kilometers per hour. Alligators are faster, as they can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour or 48 kilometers per hour.

But then, these speeds are only the maximum at short bursts. They cannot sustain this speed. Despite this, humans should be wary and not stay too close to crocs and gators. The safe distance from crocs and gators is between 15 and 20 feet.

People are also advised not to camp near the water. When watching crocs, people should also maintain a distance of 15 to 20 feet from the water’s edge. Crocs and gators usually hide underwater and lunge at prey at tremendous speeds.

Related Article: What Sounds Do Alligators Make?

Can a human outrun an alligator or crocodile?

crocodiles

If the human is Usain Bolt, then the answer is a resounding yes. An average human? Possible. In addition to this, humans do not have reflexes as fast as crocodilians.

The only reason a human can easily outrun a croc or a gator is that these animals give up so easily. They run in short bursts, and that gives humans an advantage. However, if a croc or gator hunted prey as lions do, there is no way a human can outrun them.

Related Article: Are crocodiles nocturnal, diurnal or crepuscular?

Summary

Crocodiles and alligators can swim backwards. However, they rarely do this because they are tough Predators. As such, they move forward most of the time.

Crocodiles and alligators cannot swim backwards. They do not have the power and physical fork to do it. There are, however, many kinds of fish and eels that can swim backwards.

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