May 10, 2006 | Issue 42•19
BATON ROUGE, LA—In a breakthrough study that contradicts decades of understanding about the nature of alligator–drunkard relations, Louisiana State University researchers have concluded that people's drunkenness does not impair the ancient reptiles' ability to inflict enormous physical harm.
Photo: Drunkard Jim Boudreaux taunts the alligator he called "a total pussy" in front of friends.
Alligators exhibit the potential to inflict serious harm, regardless of the blood-alcohol levels of their victims.
"Our data strongly indicates that human intoxication does not transform an alligator into a docile creature that enjoys wrestling," said professor Ryder McCrory, chair of the Wildlife Taunting Department of LSU's prestigious Center For Bullying And Hazing Studies. "Despite its slow-witted demeanor and tendency to bask motionlessly in the hot sun, it's a mistake to believe that an alligator will passively tolerate a half nelson, no matter how much Southern Comfort is fueling it."
McCrory said the study yielded statistics that speak for themselves.
"In 10 out of 10 documented cases of violent alligator–drunkard encounters, the reptile was not influenced by the fact that the victim was 'just kidding' or 'just having some fun,'" McCrory said.
To an alligator, McCrory explained, a human forearm, even drunkenly dangled between the creature's casually opened jaws, still appears to be prey.
In field experiments, members of the control group performed no better-—and often far worse—than their sober counterparts in defending themselves against a 300-pound, seven-foot bull alligator. Even when armed with an empty tequila bottle.
"At best, the bottles bounced harmlessly off the alligator's snout," said LSU research assistant Tracy Sawyer.
When placed in water, the drunken volunteers fared even worse, and the alligator markedly better, Sawyer said.
In addition, the alligators far outperformed their inebriated human counterparts in the following areas: lunging, biting, crushing, dismembering, and swallowing.
Enlarge ImageAlligator and Drunk
According to the study, an alligator's characteristic grin should not be interpreted as a lighthearted reaction to the outrageous nerve of an alcohol-addled human. "Don't let an alligator's easygoing appearance fool you," Sawyer said. "These creatures have no empathy for drunken pranksters looking for fun. They are not black bears."
McCrory recommended that alligator wrestling be undertaken solely by professionals, specifically roadside-attraction proprietors. For drunkards interested in proving their mettle with alligators, the researchers proposed these guidelines:
Instead of baiting an alligator, seek another form of drunken recreation, such as attending a strip club, burning a pile of tires, or painting one's buttocks with a funny face and videotaping it.
Sick or infant deer are considered a far safer match for most inebriated humans; kicking a raccoon or squirrel already dying by the side of the road is also recommended.
Experts suggest that those who become aggressive after consuming alcohol would be safer channeling that energy into more constructive behavior, such as calling an ex-lover.
And McCrory warned drunkards who "absolutely must assault an alligator while inebriated" to first make sure it is not a John Deere Gator cargo utility vehicle. This oversight "is a common occurrence," he said.