Crocodiles In Trees

I really don’t know much about alligators and crocodiles, including which is which. Whenever I wonder about their various differences I take a moment and look it up, (alligator – freshwater, “u” shaped snout / crocodile – salt water, “v” shaped snout) but when I’m face-to-face with one or the other, I always forget what I learned and panic in exactly the same way, regardless.


Because I have so much idle time, I often daydream about what I would do if a giant reptile decided I was worth the effort to chase down and, perhaps, eat. My first thought is that I would outrun the beast, though I’ve been informed that they are surprisingly fast – a bit of information that becomes more alarming as I age and become surprisingly slow.

I have always assumed that another convenient escape route for any potential human morsel would be to climb a nearby tree, since the only images I’ve seen of crocodiles and alligators depict them at ground level, or partially submerged. I climbed many a tree when I was a boy, and only fell out of one once. So I figured with the help of adrenaline I could probably get off the ground once again and cling to a higher branch until a sick goat happened to wander by to distract my frustrated reptilian pursuer.

But now comes the troubling information that alligators and crocodiles can climb. Obviously this puts a kink in my plans. Before this I had never considered the possibility that the words “… he was pulled out of a tree by an alligator” could someday appear in my obituary.

There’s nothing about that experience that sounds even remotely pleasant, although it would be a pretty remarkable thing to have as your official C.O.D. (cause of demise). The scenario does have me wondering where a treed human would try to kick an upwardly mobile crocodile or alligator, since they are pretty much all mouth on the front end. Surely there must be a strategy that would work!

A crocodilian has you up a tree. Now what?

47 thoughts on “Crocodiles In Trees”

  1. Good morning. I don’t see anything that will work if I am up tree with an alligator that can climb coming after me. My pocket knife probably will not be much help. If I jump out of the tree the alligator will probably jump on me. I know there are some people who wrestle with alligators. I doubt I could do that. Maybe if I got on the back of the alligator and held on for all I was worth I could save myself. Will that work? I don’t think so.


  2. This is where I hope that I wake up really, really soon and realize it’s all a dream. I love that moment when I wake up from an icky dream and realize “it’s not real. it’s not real.”


  3. Recite poetry?

    How doth the little crocodile
    Improve his shining tail,
    And pour the waters of the Nile
    On every golden scale!

    How cheerfully he seems to grin,
    How neatly spreads his claws,
    And welcomes little fishes in
    With gently smiling jaws!

    -Lewis Carroll


  4. If I find myself up a tree with an alligator in pursuit, I must be in Florida golfing. The obvious thing to do is get out my 8-iron and give him a good whack between the eyes. In the unlikely event that that doesn’t do the trick, I’ll try pepper spray. By now, the gator is either discouraged or really irritated. If the latter, I’ll have to shoot him. I’m not a violent person, but enough is enough.


      1. My late great uncle, the gentle physician (and former farmboy) always had a gun in the golfbag to do away with the gophers that were determined to devastate the local golf course. I could not make this up.


      2. I don’t golf, Edith, and I don’t own a gun, but I figured what the heck, if I’m going to be treed by an alligator, I might as well go for broke. Note, that I didn’t have a cell phone.


        1. Sort of reminds me of story told by Peter Freuchen, a Danish arctic explorer, known for telling tall tales. He was out hunting in Greenland when he came across a polar bear. He tried to shoot the bear, but missed, and what was worse, dropped the gun, at which point the bear began to chase him. He finally had to climb a tree in order to get away from the bear. Someone pointed out that there are no trees in Greenland, to which Freuchen replied, I know, but what else could I do.


        2. If that’s me in the tree, the alligator has already schlepped 1500 miles north and is likely worn out, or is a pet store escapee and is probably no more that a foot long. Annoying, but I think I can handle him.


  5. Back in the spring of 1968 I worked a few months for W. T. Grant in Riverhead, NY. One of my assignments was to work in the pet department, an assignment I really didn’t care for. Mornings were spent cleaning cages of hamsters and gerbils, fishing dead fish out of the aquariums, and catching the occasional escaped bird. Then I’d feed the various critters. We had a tank of small alligators, hissing and snapping little beasts. Never understood why anyone would want to have one for a pet. Looking back, I think it was irresponsible to be selling them as such; at the time, I merely considered them a damn nuisance. I tried to keep my fingers as far away from them as I could. I never did sell one of them.


  6. Yet another reason I love to live here in the Great White North.

    None of the scary cold-blooded beasties can go rogue and grow to threateningly large sizes.

    The moment I was walking down the sidewalk in the greater DC area and saw a praying mantis big enough to push back if I stepped on it coming up the sidewalk in my direction is forever etched in my memory. It also confirmed my opinion that I was living as far South as I cared to.


    1. I’ve always thought of a praying mantis as a curious, but pretty harmless creature, mig. How big do they get, and what harm can they do to a human?


      1. I know they are pretty fierce with each other (something about heads being bitten off), but I don’t suppose they could actually harm a human.

        When I step on a bug, I want to be rather less than more aware of it. The one I encountered was about 4″ long (just the body and neck, not counting the leg stretched out). I have a smallish foot, so it would have taken most of the front of a heeled shoe to cover it. eek.

        National Geographic ( says they can get up to 6″ -the picture comparing them to a teacup is a little unsettling for me. I don’t mind bugs as such, but as a confirmed Northerner, I prefer them to not approximate the size of a rodent. I also like my reptiles smaller than say, a housecat.


        1. I’ve heard several credible stories about a preying mantis that took a shine to people and liked to watch them. Now and then, one develops a sort of relationship to a person.


  7. Surely by the time I am treed by a crocodile/alligator, someone will have perfected the personal rocket self-launcher, by which I will be zoomed up to safety.

    OT: I’ve learned about a series of free concerts at the Como Conservatory – Music Under Glass. Sunday at 4:30, the Cafe Accordion Orchestra will be playing. For more information:


    1. I went. Fun show!

      For the first half there were lots of people who seemed to want to converse loudly instead of listening to the music. Not to mention people with children who were bored and restless and really obviously just wanted to be at their friend’s house playing video games. After the break it was more fun; the crowd thinned out and those who were left were attentive. The band played Fourth Street Mess Around and L’Accordion, among others. People danced. Wine was served. Had a nice time.


  8. my computers are dying like lepers with a virus or something. i had a great gator reply this morning and one for love songs yesterday but between trying t figure out life with no computer (smart phones are more frustrating than helpful) i will get back up and running soon. i keep telling myself. i had so much fun writing it i hope i find it again


    1. OK, now that I have a spoon and an empty ice cream carton, I can wad up the carton and stuff that up his nostrils while beating him with the spoon! See how it all works out?


  9. Perhaps I could take a page from the folks who like to find you on Saturday mornings before you are out of your pajamas and hand the croc a “tract” made from the leaves of the tree and ask him (or her) if he has accepted The Lorax as his lord and savior. I could go on at length about what is said in verse 2, ode six about the Truffula Trees and how, if he pauses to think, perhaps he does not need a Thneed at all, he only needs to accept the eternal love and divine spirit of The Lorax…with luck, I could get him to glaze over as I speak of the other Apostles: The Cat, Horton the Brave and True, Pop Upon Whom is Hopped, and Sam I Am the Patron Saint of Persistence (okay, perhaps not that last one…might not be in my favor to mention persistence to a hungry croc). Perhaps he will either back away slowly then, assuming I am not quite “all there” and find a tastier treat elsewhere. Maybe.


  10. My wonder with the gator in the tree will live for quite a while crocodile Or as billy Collins might say:
    The reptilian sleekness of the pursuit was emotionally lit there overlooking the shores of the okefinokee so vast and moss endowed in its elegance and splendor,
    My fellow bogmates are so comfortable here that I can only enviously imagine what it is like to be one with the craw dads, one with the cypress, one with the wildness that once not long ago was all there was to see here,

    Now with man coming in groves packing construction material and an east coast accent, bug repellant and curiosity I hope we can live together, they look so harmless, so ill prepared to live in the elements, no tail, no teeth, no hide to protect, no swimming ability or any special tools to contend, how sad to see a weak link in the circle of life, look at the poor fool climbing a tree to get away. Has it really not thought this through any better than this? If I choose to follow up the tree what is your next move fool? Homo Saipan tartar?

    Once boots belts and briefcases took up where buffalo left off, mans ugliness rescinded, off the endangered species list as long as they stay out of the gated communities and away from livestock we won’t open hunting season, we are visiting in their world but we make the rules and with no special tools to contend we rely on our god given right to blast any other creatures on the planet no matter what kind of encroaching we do.
    Eagles, turkeys, porkepines,bears,gibbons, leopards, gators and man we can all live here on earth and all climb trees,
    All together now.


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