How Fast Can an Alligator Run on Land?

According to the Texas Dept of Parks and Wildlife, an alligator can run at speeds of 35 miles per hour or about 56 kilometers per hour in very short bursts, although their usual speed doesn’t exceed around 11mph (18km/h).

Alligators run to flee from a threat. There is no documented evidence that alligators chase prey on land.

They are opportunistic carnivores, but they only want to hunt prey they can easily subdue. It is the reason they mainly prey on fish, turtles and small mammals. 

Disclaimer: This is information for entertainment and educational purposes only. Do not approach a wild animal and keep your distance. Only professionals should handle wild animals. Seek professional help immediately if you have been bitten or otherwise harmedConsult your local wildlife authority for the right advice for your situation and locality.

How Fast Can an Alligator Run on Land

Can Alligators Run on Two Legs?

Alligators cannot run on two legs. Their long tails and bodies prevent them from standing on both legs.

The modern alligator has legs that sprawl to the side. As such, they cannot raise themselves. Their tails also prevent them from doing it. Alligators cannot stand on both legs as the tail will interfere. 

However, alligators have ancestors that could do it. An excellent example is the Poposaurus. It is an extinct genus of the archosaur, and the archosaur is the common ancestor of the crocodilian family and dinosaurs. 

As a reptile, the Poposaurus lived in the Late Triassic Period in the United States. Like the alligator and crocodiles, it is of pseudosuchian origins. It was a tall reptile, and it was a bipedal animal. 

According to scientific estimates, the Poposaurus weighed about 75 kilograms, and the largest weighed up to 100 kilograms. It had elongated pubis, and its hind legs were twice as long as its front limbs.

As far as locomotion goes, scientists described the animal as a well-muscled reptile. It had deep hip sockets, which is a feature for the bone structure of animals that walk on to feet. 

Are Alligators Faster Than Humans?

Over short distances, alligators are faster than humans, however, over longer distances, most humans could easily outrun an alligator since alligators tire quickly and are clumsy on land.

The fastest that a human can run on land is 37.58 kilometers per hour or 23.5 miles per hour. The record holder is Usain Bolt. However, it does not mean that all humans can do this. The average speed of a human being is only 10 kilometers per hour. 

Usain Bolt is a highly trained athlete with uncanny abilities. He is the best runner among humans. And yet, he is not faster than an alligator. Pound for pound, the alligator will beat Usain in a running match.

Here is a comparison: 

  • Usain Bolt – 23.5 miles per hour
  • Alligator – 35 miles per hour

This gap is huge, which means that an alligator can easily outrun any human being on the planet. Thankfully, they do not prey on humans and would rather avoid a confrontation. Some alligators give chase, but these chases are nothing more than shot bursts. 

Can an Alligator Run Faster than they can Swim?

Alligators can swim at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour or 32 kilometers per hour. This is much quicker than an alligator’s regular running speed of 11mph (18km/h) but slower than the maximum sprint speed of an alligator (35mph).

What to do if an Alligator is Chasing You?

The safest thing to do if an alligator approaches you is to back away. Alligators can move quickly but only for very short bursts. Over longer distances, a human can easily outrun an alligator. Alligators will fiercely defend their nests and eggs, so it’s best to leave them alone.

Gator attacks are rare. They have a natural fear of humans, and they usually retreat in safety if they spot a human being. This fear, however, is not a guarantee that they will not give chase. 

Many people make the mistake of thinking that alligators are slow animals. Some even believe that alligators are lethargic and are not interested in humans. However, there have been instances of alligators chasing humans on both land and water.

Some people surmise that running in a zig-zag pattern will help lose the alligator. There is some truth to this, but it’s not really necessary. While alligators run faster than human beings, they only do this on very short sprints. They cannot sustain their speed when running. 

In essence, a human can outrun an alligator because the alligator can not sustain a chase on land. An attack in the water, however, is a different thing altogether. Once the alligator bites, the human is in serious danger.  

On land, a human that is dangerously close to an alligator cannot outrun it. Also, alligators have better reflexes than humans. A human may not anticipate the attack, and when it happens, it is too late. 

How do Alligators Move on Land? 

Unlike its cousin, the crocodile, an alligator only has two types of locomotion on land. These two are called “sprawl” and “high walk.” 

In a sprawl, the alligator moves forward by anchoring its belly to the ground. The alligator uses its feet to push itself forward while the belly is still touching the ground.

In the high walk, the alligator pushes itself up with its four limbs. They use their limbs to move forward like other four-legged animals.

Some alligators rise up on their hind legs and jump forward, similar to what galloping horses and dogs do. However, this does not mean that they can walk on their hind legs. 

All crocodilians commonly use the sprawl method of movement. Scientists see this as an interesting point of study. The sprawl provides an interesting model that allows scientists to see how crocodiles have evolved over time.

Summary: How Fast Can an Alligator Run on Land?

An alligator is a fast runner and fast swimmer. It can run up to 35 miles per hour on land for very short sprints, and swim at up to 20 miles per hour.

The good news is that they do not prey on humans. They have a fear of humans. However, it does not mean that they will not attack. Like many wild animals, alligators will not hesitate to attack if they feel threatened.

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