How Do You Wrestle an American Alligator?

If you’ve had the opportunity to see a live alligator show in South Florida after an Everglades airboat tour, you probably noticed firsthand how expertise and know-how play a critical role. Alligator wrestling is exciting but certainly not something that you should attempt on your own on an otherwise dull Saturday afternoon. A sport that’s not for the faint-hearted, mastering alligator-capturing techniques takes years of dedication, practice, and skill – a rare combination that should be left to alligator professionals like the famous Gator Boys.

However, if you’re curious about the process and interested in finding out about the steps involved in learning how to wrestle an alligator, schedule an Everglades airboat safari voyage today. Here’s some fun information about our Everglades boat tours to help get you started. Remember, regardless of how easy it looks, alligator wrestling is dangerous. The good news? There are plenty of fantastic destinations for taking in a live show with the family at Everglades National Park airboat tours.


Originally, it was the Native Americans who engaged in alligator wrestling. Not for sport but rather as a tried and true hunting technique. Long before Europeans set foot in the Everglades, Native Americans in the Southeast hunted gators for food and trade purposes. Today, alligators in Florida are part of the state’s robust culture, and folks associate gators with everything from college football teams (like Gainesville’s Florida Gators) to local newspapers (The Independent Florida Alligator).

To wrestle an alligator is a popular pastime in the Sunshine State, and witnessing a live show is loads of fun for all ages. Where are the gators? You can see them throughout Alligator Alley and on our Everglades National Park boat tours. With an estimated population of  200,000, the American alligator is found in abundance, and the Florida Everglades is the place to be for everything gator. If you haven’t toured the area by airboat, you simply must schedule a group airboat tour. Wildlife exploration in a natural environment is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and traveling the Everglades by boat is a must-do for outdoor enthusiasts, thrill seekers, and families looking for adventure.

Techniques in Wrestling Alligators

While every gator handler has a different approach, there are some similarities involved in successfully taking down a powerful reptile like an alligator. They say that technique is far more important than strength. And that’s a good thing because some Alligators grow as long as 13 feet, weighing in at close to 800 pounds! Nevertheless, whether you’re dealing with a small 5-foot gator or a giant twice your size, there are two primary steps in the process – mounting the back and controlling the jaws when professionals wrestle an alligator.

Secure a Seat on the Gator’s Back– The first step is to mount the gator from behind. Easier said than done; skilled professionals agree that this is also the most dangerous part of the feat. Experts recommend approaching the alligator from the back only, as a side or front attempt will make it more likely that you will get bit. Sometimes, gator handlers will cover the alligator’s head with a towel or piece of clothing. This is done to prevent the gator from seeing, which slows reaction time – a tactic that’s proved invaluable in more than a few cases. Mount the gator by quickly jumping on the animal’s back with outstretched arms, using your hands to push the gator’s head to the ground, preventing the lower jaw from opening.

Control the Jaws– After successfully mounting the gator, the next step is to control the jaws. Slide your hands down the back of the head, gripping the jaw with both hands – one on the top portion of the jaw and the other securing the bottom jaw line. Interestingly, alligators have extremely weak jaw muscles, meaning that once you’ve secured the jaws shut, holding them closed with one hand is possible. Another less-known fact about alligator wrestling is that once you get control of the mouth and raise the animal’s head 90 degrees off the ground, it can no longer fight back. This submission pose creates an opportunity for gator handlers to perform tricks and entertain excited guests who have come to watch an invigorating alligator wrestling show.

Exploring More Gator Experiences in South Florida

If alligators fascinate you, then Florida is where you need to be. While the thrilling act of alligator wrestling attracts many, it’s far from the only way to get close to these remarkable reptiles. Let’s delve deeper into alternative experiences you should consider.

Everglades Airboat Tours

An unforgettable experience is navigating across the Florida Everglades in an airboat. The Everglades are a vast system of wetlands that act as a marsh for breeding alligators. You may view adult alligators as well as other species like Cuban and Nile crocodiles while safely gliding over these marshes on an airboat excursion. These trips frequently include knowledgeable guides who can impart valuable information and guarantee visitors’ security.

Baby Alligator Encounters

Before these creatures grow into massive predators, they start life as adorable baby alligators. Encountering these babies provides a different, more tender perspective on the animal. Specialized parks in South Florida often offer these encounters, giving you the chance to hold a baby alligator and even snap a picture for keepsake. What better way to make your trip memorable?

Unique Flora and Fauna in the Everglades

While there is certainly no shortage of places to visit when the goal is to see alligator wrestling in Florida, there are some destinations that are better than others. Our Miami airboat tours are an experience everyone can enjoy. As the home of the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue, Everglades Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale is South Florida’s premier locale for gator shows, Everglades excursions, and exciting private airboat tours through the River of Grass. Someone from the talented “Gator Boys” team performs live at the park daily, and the guys and gals of Animal Planet’s show are happy to put on a complimentary presentation for guests who purchase tickets for an airboat tour through the Everglades. Everglades Holiday Park is a family favorite, featuring 60-minute* narrated Everglades tours, a live animal encounters exhibit and of course, live alligator shows in the world famous “Gator Pit”.

FAQs About Alligator Wrestling

  • Why do some choose to wrestle alligators as a sport in Florida? Alligator wrestling has deep historical roots, starting with Native Americans. Nowadays, it’s an exhilarating sport that captures the imagination and adventurous spirit of many people.
  • What safety measures should one consider before attempting to wrestle an alligator? Without having the necessary training, you should never attempt to wrestle an alligator. Through the necessary skills and fundamental safety rules, you’ll discover how to approach an alligator cautiously, which body sections to avoid, and how to capture and wrestle the reptile safely.
  • Where can I wrestle an alligator in Florida? South Florida is your best bet. Head toward areas like Fort Lauderdale and the Everglades, where specialized parks offer both safety courses and expert supervision for alligator wrestling.
  • Why is the Florida Everglades a hotspot for gator enthusiasts? The Everglades is essentially an alligator wonderland. With its lush marshes and abundant wildlife, it’s the best place to see these creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Why were Native Americans originally involved in alligator wrestling? Initially, Native Americans wrestled alligators as a method of capture for sustenance and materials. This activity gradually evolved into the entertaining and challenging sport we know today.
  • How do Everglades airboat tours offer a close view of the gator’s natural habitat? Everglades airboat tours glide through shallow marshes, giving you an up-close look at gators in their natural swampy habitat.

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