Florida teen thankful to be alive after gator attack - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Florida teen thankful to be alive after gator attack

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A 17-year-old Seminole County boy was attacked by an alligator while swimming.

Andrew Hudson says the 10-foot gator latched onto his head as he was in a river with a friend. He was able to get away after he started swinging his arms and hit the gator a couple of times.

"If he held on or started to roll or kept me under, I probably wouldn't have made it, or it would have been a lot more severe," Hudson said Tuesday.

Experts say you can pretty much assume there's an alligator of some size in every freshwater body in the state.

While bites like the one in Seminole County are rare, they are on the rise.

There are more than 1.3-million alligators making their home in Florida's fresh, brackish, and occasionally even salt water.

"Anywhere there's freshwater, you can assume there's going to be an alligator, especially anything that's murky, that you can't see in," said Florida Aquarium senior biologist Jordan Ward.

Sometimes, they don't exactly take well to visitors.

Just last year a south Florida tour guide's hand was bit off by a gator in front of a full boat of passengers.

Also in 2012, a 14-year old was attacked in Clearwater while wading into a lake to grab a Frisbee, and a Moore Haven teen lost his forearm after an alligator bit him while he was swimming in a river.

Experts say many times alligators attack by accident due to the strong sensors surrounding their jawline.

"If someone swims by and touch them with your foot, they can actually, just out of reaction from touching those receptors and bite at something," Ward said.

As the weather heats up, so does alligator activity. Females lay their eggs around this time of year and are known to be some of the most protective moms around.

"Certainly, if you see young alligators in the water, do not go near them because if there's a baby gator somewhere, its momma is right nearby," Ward said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers encourage swimmers to do a quick survey before taking a dip this summer.

While alligators average about seven attacks on humans a year in the state, experts say it's best to admire them from a distance.

"If you do see one, get out of the water. They can be very big animals. They can pose a significant threat to humans if you're not careful," FWC officer Baryl Martin said.

One of the greatest contributors to alligator attacks can be prevented. Officials say when people feed alligators, they lose their fear of humans and instantly become a danger.

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