What Colors Are Alligators Attracted To?

When alligators attack, people develop theories to try and understand what caused the attack and what could have been done to prevent it. Sometimes these theories are untrue, like the one that says if you run in a zigzag, an alligator cannot catch you. Others are true, like fighting and making a loud noise may scare off the alligator. Some kayakers believe that alligators are attracted to certain colors, and your kayak color can make a difference.

To date, no scientific evidence indicates that certain colors attract alligators or cause them to attack. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that they may be attracted to pink, yellow and red items. Alligators are lured by colors contrasting with the background, making hunting easier.    

People like to feel they have some measure of control in dangerous situations. This characteristic applies to encounters with alligators, which are undoubtedly dangerous apex predators. 

If they can take precautions, they feel more comfortable about the situation. 

Are Alligators Attracted To Some Colours?

Everyone has been told that bulls hate red, which is why bulls charge the matador’s red cape. The truth is that bulls cannot see red, and the cape’s movement irritates the bull. So, what about alligators? Are there colors that attract them or make them attack?

There has been no research into what colors are attractive to alligators. However, scientists have found that alligators do see colors. 

There are differing views on what colors they see. Dr. Vladimir Dinets, a researcher from the University of Tennessee, observed that alligators preferred small pink items and red balls. 

Alligator tour guides state that alligators prefer bright colors, especially pink, red and yellow. These guides conduct hundreds of tours and may be regarded as experienced, credible observers of alligators. 

Why Would Alligators Be Attracted To Colors?

People may find it curious that alligators are attracted to bright colors. 

The answer probably lies in their choice of prey. For example, alligators commonly eat birds and fish. This is because many birds have bright-colored feathers, and fish often have iridescent scales.  

Bright colors allow the crocodile to easily notice these prey animals as they stand out against the background. However, more objective research is needed to determine if these observations are accurate. 

Based on the observations of Dr. Dinets and the tour guides, it would probably be best to avoid kayaks and paddles that are red, pink, or yellow. 

Movement May Be More Important Than Color

Most biologists believe movement is more likely to cause an alligator to attack than color. They base this belief on a recent discovery that alligators can detect a single drop of water falling into the water through special sensors on their skin. 

In 2012, alligator researchers discovered that alligators and crocodiles have special sensory organs on their skin that can detect movement and vibration. 

Initially, these sensors were thought to be markings on the skin as scientists believed that alligator skin was too armored and tough to be sensitive. 

Further investigations revealed that these markings are integumentary sensor organs. 

They are highly attuned to pressure and vibration alterations. Awareness of these changes allows the crocodile to determine small movements from a considerable distance.  

These finely tuned sensors enable the alligator to detect the presence, location, and distance of prey, allowing the alligator to be extremely accurate as it strikes.

Most of these sensors are located around the face and mouth, further advancing the theory that they are used to aid hunting.  

Kayakers experienced in navigating alligator-infested water have long been aware of the need to limit splashing and vigorous movement around alligators. 

They advise that paddling should be smooth with as little splashing as possible to avoid arousing the interest of alligators. 

Color Does Not Matter In Alligator Mating Season

One thing that all the experts agree on is that kayakers should avoid water where alligators live during mating season. 

It does not matter what color kayak or paddles you have; alligators are prone to be aggressive and attack during mating season. 

Mating season occurs from April to June. As a result, male alligators become territorial and view kayaks as intruders that should be dispatched as speedily as possible during this period. 

Alligators are most active and mate from dusk to dawn but will protect their territory during the day. 

Female alligators protecting their nests are even more aggressive than males during mating season. They will not wait to check on the kayak’s color but will charge any perceived threat with vigor and ferocity. 

These reptiles build their nests on dry land adjacent to the river or islands in the lake or dam. 

They look like heaps of sticks and other vegetation. Inadvertently kayaking near these nests can result in the mother alligator launching an attack from the bank where she is guarding the eggs. 

Alligators Use Color To Find Fruit To Eat

A fact that is not well known and surprises most people is that alligators eat fruit as part of their diet. 

Alligators have been observed eating grapes, wild elderberry, oranges, tangerines, kumquat, corn, pears, apples, and various vegetables. 

They eat a surprising amount of fruit and vegetables. In addition, their ability to see color and attraction to bright colors may help them to identify suitable plant materials to eat. 

Seeds from a wide variety of plants have been found in their feces. In addition, biologists have noted that alligators play a crucial role in seed dispersal.

Do Alligators See The Same In Fresh And Salt Water? 

Alligators prefer fresh water as they have no salt glands to excrete excess salt from their bodies. 

They can tolerate saline water for short periods and may be found in waterways close to the coast. 

Light behaves differently when it enters salt water and fresh water. In saltwater, there is more blue light; in freshwater, there is more red light. 

Since alligators have adapted to freshwater, they may perceive colors differently or not as well in saltwater. This is another avenue that needs research before kayakers can decide if kayak color makes a difference.  

Final Word

There is no objective evidence showing that alligators are partial to a particular color or that it will make them attack. 

Observations have suggested that alligators may respond to bright colors, especially pink, red and yellow. Therefore, avoiding these colors for your kayak and paddles is probably best.  

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