Hurricanes are devastating to the natural world, but what happens to alligators during a hurricane?
In the wake of Hurricane Ida, which flooded communities in Louisiana and New York Monday, experts are wondering how animals such as alligators, sea snakes and crocodiles deal with storms. Many of these creatures will hunker down in the water and take shelter, but others may change their foraging habits to avoid storms.
For animals that cannot ride out a hurricane, or are simply too large to swim through floodwaters, finding shelter is the best way to survive, says Bradley Strickland, a postdoctoral researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He's studied the responses of fish, crocodiles and sharks to storms and found that these animals can change their behaviors to stay safe, such as finding places where they can hide, like underwater caves or under rocks.
If you see a gator, it's best to keep your distance and leave it alone. They can be a bit aggressive, so it's not a good idea to approach them.
Despite their fearsome size, gators are generally not dangerous. They only attack if they feel threatened, and even then it's very rare.
Gators are also not fond of being touched or petted, so it's best to not bring pets into the water. If you must, make sure they are fully covered in a diaper.
Experts say if you do get in the water, never go swimming without a buddy. Alligators can sense the presence of a person and they will be afraid of you, so it's best to have a friend or family member with you.