Do Alligators Swim Faster in Water or Run Faster on Land?

Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Since alligators are semiaquatic reptiles, it's imperative for them to always be in the vicinity of water, whether wetlands, lakes or rivers. If you ever happen to be in one of these settings, stay as far away from them as possible. Although they're even faster in water, they can sometimes be pretty fast on land, too.

Alligators and Swimming

Swimming is a strong skill for alligators. They are adept at it, employing their lengthy, broad tails to plow their bodies forward. Alligators possess short limbs they can bend back while they're swimming. Doing this enables them to give their physiques a sleeker outline, which in turn assists them in moving more swiftly and easily. While they have the ability to be extremely rapid in the water, they're often motionless in it. Their lack of movement in the water often helps them, however, in that it allows them to remain more inconspicuous to prey.

On Dry Land

Alligators are a bit more clumsy on dry land. When they're moving on land, their bodies nearly drag on the earth. They lug their tails around as they move. Although they're not particularly nimble or graceful on terra firma, they can sprint. For brief bursts of time, alligators on land can outrun people. Mud often helps their speed on land, as they can use their stomachs to glide on it. For the most part, though, they're sluggish on land, making frequent stops.

Faster in the Water

Alligators don't have much endurance on land because of their short limbs. When alligators are at their swiftest on land, they can go as rapidly as 11 mph. This still can't measure up to their water swimming speed, however. When alligators are in the water, they sometimes can go as speedily as a maximum of 20 mph or so.

Hunting Aggression

Never go near an alligator you see in the wild, even if he appears to just be in the water. It isn't unheard of for them to go after people. If alligators are bothered by a person they believe has come too close, they sometimes react fiercely -- and rapidly. Exercise extreme caution in environments that are commonly home to alligators, whether marshes, swamps, creeks or ponds. Alligator aggression can sometimes bring upon life-threatening results in people. Since there's a strong chance that an alligator will be able to run faster than you can in a sudden burst, it's important to never take any chances. Don't venture into water with alligators anywhere nearby.

    Photo Credits

    • Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images