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Can you outrun an alligator in a zig-zag?

RELEASED January 8, 2013
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Episode Summary
You’ve heard the warning before: If you’re being chased on land by an alligator, run in a zig-zag. Of course, the average person should be capable of outrunning an alligator. Josh and Chuck take the opportunity to explore alligator safety anyway.

Male Speaker:    Brought to you by the 2012 Toyota Camry.  It's ready.  Are you?

Female Speaker:    Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark:    Hey, and welcome to the podcast.  I'm Josh Clark.  There's Charles W. (Chuck) Bryant.  And this is Stuff You Should Know, Reptilian Edition.  That was not funny.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, it was.

Josh Clark:    Really?

Chuck Bryant:    Sure.

Josh Clark:    I didn't expect it.

Chuck Bryant:    I can't fake laugh.

Josh Clark:    I got you yesterday, didn't I?

Chuck Bryant:    When?

Josh Clark:    I did a great fake laugh.

Chuck Bryant:    Oh, that made me really laugh?

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    And that's ultimately what you want.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  Josh and I were shooting TV promos, and he hammed it up a little bit at one time.

Josh Clark:    Which I never do.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, sometimes, you do.

Josh Clark:    So I have a question for you.

Chuck Bryant:    Yes.

Josh Clark:    Do you know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, sure.

Josh Clark:    All right.  Let's hear it, smart guy.

Chuck Bryant:    Well, no, go ahead.  I mean, I don't want to steal your thunder.

Josh Clark:    Oh, okay.

Chuck Bryant:    Well, I mean, they don't live in the same places.

Josh Clark:    No, that's a big one.  A crocodile has a gland in its tongue that helps get rid of excess salt, which allows it to live in brackish water, saltwater.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    Alligators don't have that.

Chuck Bryant:    Right.  That's why they are fresh water.

Josh Clark:    Right.  If you see an alligator in the ocean, you're on acid.

Chuck Bryant:    There's probably not crocodiles in the ocean, are there?

Josh Clark:    They could be in the ocean, if they wanted to, is the point.

Chuck Bryant:    Okay.

Josh Clark:    They just don't want to.

Chuck Bryant:    But you still have a high likelihood of being on acid if you see a crocodile in the ocean, I would say.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  You may want to rethink what you're seeing.

Chuck Bryant:    Yes.

Josh Clark:    That's one thing.  Another one is the crocodile has a V-shaped snout −

Chuck Bryant:    Right.

Josh Clark:    − whereas, the alligator has more of a rounded U.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, yeah.

Josh Clark:    And, lastly, you can always tell a crocodile because its fourth front tooth on the bottom sticks up over its top lip, so when its mouth's closed, there's always one tooth sticking out.

Chuck Bryant:    A little snaggletooth?

Josh Clark:    Yeah, it's a snaggletooth, the crocodile is.

Chuck Bryant:    Interesting.  I remember learning most of this back in the schooling days, but I never heard about the tooth.

Josh Clark:    Well, what is this podcast, if not a revisit to school?

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    And then some.

Chuck Bryant:    Back to school, without Rodney Dangerfield.

Josh Clark:    Well, you know, so crocodiles and alligators diverged 65 million years ago.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, they had a big falling out.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  And cairns – are you familiar with these things?

Chuck Bryant:    I've heard of that.  What is that?

Josh Clark:    C-A-I-R-N-S.  For all intents and purposes, it's another either alligator or crocodile.

Chuck Bryant:    Okay.

Josh Clark:    But all three of them, they went their own ways.  They broke up, like the Eagles, 65 million years ago.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    They all went on to do their own thing.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, the Eagles got back together though.

Josh Clark:    Oh, yeah, you said you've never seen "The H is O."

Chuck Bryant:    No.

Josh Clark:    I have to show that to you.  I'll send you that link.

Chuck Bryant:    Okay.

Josh Clark:    Anyway, and I forgot what the point was.  There was a great segue.

Chuck Bryant:    They split up.  They split up many years ago.

Josh Clark:    Oh, yeah, yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    They broke up the band.

Josh Clark:    I gotcha.  The point of all this is you've heard that you can outrun an alligator in a zigzag?

Chuck Bryant:    I have heard both alligator and crocodile.

Josh Clark:    Okay.  So it's maybe a shared commonality?

Chuck Bryant:    Probably depending on where you live.

Josh Clark:    The only shared commonality is that it's not really true with either one.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    I guess it is true, but it's just completely superfluous information.

Chuck Bryant:    That's right.  The MythBusters busted this one wide open.

Josh Clark:    Oh, they did?

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, with crocodiles and alligators.

Josh Clark:    With live crocodiles and alligators?

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  They had a live alligator.

Josh Clark:    With corks on its teeth?

Chuck Bryant:    Like, they stuffed pantyhose with quail, like, dead quail, and attached it to their little dummy guy they always use and had a zigzag course.  And then I think they used – I think Kari, like, really got in there.  But, basically, they busted it because they couldn't even tempt them to come after them, which is sort of the point.

Josh Clark:    It is the point, that outrunning an alligator in a zigzag, yes, you could outrun an alligator in a zigzag.  You could also outrun an alligator in a straight line.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    And probably, like you say, the point is that an alligator's not really interested in you.

Chuck Bryant:    Like almost all animals.  We are way more afraid of them – I'm sorry – they're way more afraid of us than we're afraid of them.

Josh Clark:    Yeah, like bees.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, I mean, I guess we're afraid of them, but you know what I'm saying.

Josh Clark:    Sure.

Chuck Bryant:    They don't want human interaction.

Josh Clark:    No, we smell to them.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  A bear doesn't want to kill you.  A shark doesn't want to kill you.  An alligator doesn't want to kill you.

Josh Clark:    I don't know.  I think a bear wants to kill you if you're wherever it doesn't think you should be.

Chuck Bryant:    No, a bear wants to get into your steak cooler in the campground.

Josh Clark:    You've seen "Grizzly Man."  "You should destroy this tape."

Chuck Bryant:    All right.  So you can outrun an alligator.  Josh, you are right because they top out at about 11 miles per hour.

Josh Clark:    Which is nothing.

Chuck Bryant:    Nah.

Josh Clark:    It's actually pretty fast.  Dude, 11 miles an hour, that's tough to keep up for a little while.  Luckily, humans can sprint.  It's called foot speed −

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    − from between 12 and 15 miles an hour −

Chuck Bryant:    That's right.

Josh Clark:    − the average human can.

Chuck Bryant:    And not only can we run faster, but we have more endurance.  An alligator's not gonna chase you down the street in your neighborhood in Pensacola.  It'll come up and growl at you on the porch.

Josh Clark:    Which, apparently, is defensive posturing, not aggression.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, that's true.  I actually did a canoeing trip down the Okefenokee many years ago – not that many years ago, but −

Josh Clark:    Two years ago?

Chuck Bryant:    No, it's been in the last, like, 12 or 14 years.  I wasn't like a little kid.

Josh Clark:    I gotcha.

Chuck Bryant:    Like, there was booze involved.

Josh Clark:    I gotcha.

Chuck Bryant:    And there were alligators there, near our canoe.  And when you do a trip through the Okefenokee, one of the coolest things is you don't – there are no campgrounds.  It is just swampland, and you have to reserve these camping decks.

Josh Clark:    Oh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    And you're the only person that can stay on the deck because it's, like, whatever, 15 by 15 feet.  And so you reserve these things ahead of time and do your trip.  And so you are the – you see no other human being once you set off in that canoe.

Josh Clark:    That's neat.

Chuck Bryant:    It's neat and kind of creepy.

Josh Clark:    Did you have a gun with you?

Chuck Bryant:    No.

Josh Clark:    Sharp rock?

Chuck Bryant:    I don't own a gun.  No.

Josh Clark:    Did you borrow a gun?

Chuck Bryant:    No.  We had a lot of boxed wine though and food.  And it was me and my buddy, Clay, and Big John.  And we all went, and we got on our camping deck by this place, right by this sort of open lakey area, just gorgeous man, one of the great trips of my life.  And in the morning, we woke up surrounded by alligators.

Josh Clark:    Wow.

Chuck Bryant:    Like, we saw eyes everywhere, and we heard them growling.  It woke us up.  And they were just hanging out, letting us know they were there.

Josh Clark:    Wow.

Chuck Bryant:    And it was a little unsettling.

Josh Clark:    I'm sure.

Chuck Bryant:    But I wasn't, like, scared the whole time.  But I was definitely aware, like, when you look in this water, it looks like iced tea.  You know, they call it black water, but it's really brown.  But you can't see, like, three inches down underneath the water.  You can't see anything.

Josh Clark:    Right, yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    So that's what's terrifying, is if I fell out of the canoe, I'd probably just get back in and be no big deal.  But you think, if I fall out of the canoe, I'm going to get eaten alive.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    So it's a little intimidating.

Josh Clark:    Yeah, because, I mean, you say that alligators don't want to kill you or anything like that.

Chuck Bryant:    No.

Josh Clark:    They will eat you though, if given the chance, if that's just how things end up.  The problem is that you or me aren't gonna run into too many alligators that could eat us −

Chuck Bryant:    No.

Josh Clark:    − which means that they would have to tear us into pieces, which an alligator tends not to like to do because, as I understand from reading this article, alligators are a little lazy.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  They like to eat their meals in one big gulpy manner.

Josh Clark:    Right.

Chuck Bryant:    So, like, a normal-size alligator, which would be about five feet or so, is gonna eat crayfish and turtles and snakes and things like that.

Josh Clark:    Yeah, and even a small dog's not really a threat by an alligator.

Chuck Bryant:    No.  I don't know if I'd throw my Chihuahua in the Okefenokee and say, "Go for a swim."

Josh Clark:    Right.

Chuck Bryant:    But you're right.

Josh Clark:    At the very least, it's just dirty.

Chuck Bryant:    Well, it's not dirty.  It's just different water.

Josh Clark:    That's nice of you, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    All water's beautiful.

Chuck Bryant:    Well, it was.  I mean, it's not like it looks gross.  It's just brown.

Josh Clark:    So you talk about small alligators, five feet and under.  That's the vast majority, as I understand.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    Apparently, humans like ones that are even smaller.  You've heard of having an alligator as a pet.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, bad idea.

Josh Clark:    Rex Banner specifically advises against this.

Chuck Bryant:    Who does?

Josh Clark:    I think it's Rex Banner from the Beer Baron episode of "The Simpsons."

Chuck Bryant:    Right.

Josh Clark:    Right?  Moe's is a pet store all of a sudden.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  But that's how most alligator attacks happen, is when you try to basically adopt an alligator as a pet −

Chuck Bryant:    Right.

Josh Clark:    − because these things, even if they're small, like a three-foot alligator – it's tiny, and they make cute noises, and they're weird-looking – they will still take a bite out of you if they feel threatened.  And even if you're not going to die, you still have to go to the hospital.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, and a mother alligator will certainly attack if you're trying to take one of her little babies as a pet – not a good idea.  And these things, we mentioned, they're not super fast on land, but they can swim, like, 20 miles an hour.

Josh Clark:    Yeah, that's the big deal.  Like, yeah, you can outrun an alligator.  You probably can't outswim an alligator.

Chuck Bryant:    You definitely can't.

Josh Clark:    So the ones that you and I would need to be afraid of would be a full-grown one, maybe up to, like, 11 feet.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, that's large.

Josh Clark:    These are the ones that could look at us and be, like, "I might be able to get that down my gullet in one bite."

Chuck Bryant:    Right.

Josh Clark:    "So let me try."

Chuck Bryant:    Or at least a small kid, you know.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  The thing is that even these big ones, like you said, they're more scared of us than we are of them, maybe.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    At the very least, they don't want to be anywhere around us, typically.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, and they don't want to be in a fight either.  Like, any kind of prey that's gonna fight back, they're just not interested in that.  Like you said, they're lazy.  They want something easy, that they can just, "Hey, look at that turtle."

Josh Clark:    Okay.  I got one for you, smart guy.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    How about whenever you're, like, paddling down the Okefenokee, and there's an alligator on land, and all of a sudden, it comes into the water toward you.  Is that not aggressive?

Chuck Bryant:    That is not aggressive.  Do you know what that is?

Josh Clark:    What?

Chuck Bryant:    It's the alligator feeling threatened and feeling way more at home in the water where they can hide, except their little eyeballs that are on top of their head.

Josh Clark:    Right.  So they're not coming after you.  You've just startled the alligator, and it just so happens to be – to seem like it's coming toward you.  It's just going back to its home, where you are.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  I get why people think that.  If you're in a canoe, and you see 15 alligators on land all of a sudden jump in the water toward you, you think, "They're coming to attack me and kill me and overturn my boat."

Josh Clark:    I've seen "Temple of Doom."

Chuck Bryant:    I have, too.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    And that's gonna happen.  Did that happen in "Temple of Doom"?

Josh Clark:    There was a guy who got rolled.

Chuck Bryant:    Oh, yes.

Josh Clark:    And, like, there −

Chuck Bryant:    I don't know.  Are you thinking of "Romancing the Stone"?

Josh Clark:    I may be.

Chuck Bryant:    Okay.

Josh Clark:    You have a good memory.

Chuck Bryant:    But tell them about the rolling, the most terrifying thing that can no doubt happen to a human.

Josh Clark:    Okay.  So we said that, you know, alligators don't want to attack you.  They don't want to eat you.  They still will attack, and they still will eat you under certain circumstances, especially if you happen to be in pieces at the time.

But the way that an alligator will attack you or its food or whatever prey it's going after, it clamps down with its jaws, which are substantial, and it does what's called the death roll, where it rolls over and over and over again, taking its prey with it on this little ride from hell.

And, typically, the alligator's prey dies from drowning, from being rolled, because an alligator can hold its breath for up to an hour.  It has no problem with death rolling for as long as it likes.

Chuck Bryant:    For kicks.

Josh Clark:    It also has nostrils on its snout, so it can keep its jaws clamped and still breathe while it's death rolling as well.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    You can't do any of those things.  So, if an alligator gets you in a death roll, you're in big trouble.

Chuck Bryant:    Yes, agreed.

Josh Clark:    But, again, we should point out that the numbers bear out the idea that alligators don't really want to have anything to do with us.

Chuck Bryant:    Right.  But they still call it a death roll and not a severe-injury roll, you know.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    Once you're in the death roll, you're toast.

Josh Clark:    Right.  So, again though, if you look at the numbers, there's, like, four alligator attacks in the United States a year.  Since 1948, the Fish and Wildlife Service reports 356 alligator attacks on humans, since 1948.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    25 are fatal.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, and they think nine of those, the victim was already dead.  So I guess they just happened upon a dude that had a heart attack.

Josh Clark:    And said, "This guy's in four pieces, too.  This is my lucky day."

Chuck Bryant:    Good eating.  So the numbers are on your side.  And this is not because they are not around because they also point out that, in Florida alone, they average about 12,000 complaints a year.

And I mentioned Pensacola.  My family, cousins grew up there in Gulf Breeze, and they had, you know, they would go out for school one day, and, oh, there's an alligator in their front yard.  "Let's go out the side door."

Josh Clark:    Right.

Chuck Bryant:    And they would call, and that's one of the complaints, like, "Hey, I got an alligator in the front yard."  And I guess someone would come by and take care of it by shooing it probably back into the woods or replacing it.  I don't think they would just, like, shoot to kill or anything like that, you know.

Josh Clark:    No.  They usually take its head off with a shovel.  They don't shoot it.

Chuck Bryant:    Or a shoe, the heel of a shoe.

Josh Clark:    Right.  What does an alligator complaint sound like?  "This alligator's looking at me.  There's an alligator looking at me.  Come do something about it."

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, that's an alligator complaint pretty much, is they're not where they – they are where they should not be −

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    − which is on my property.

Josh Clark:    Or, again though, maybe where we should not be, which is in an alligator's house.

Chuck Bryant:    Well, that's a heck of a point.  They lived right on the bay.

Josh Clark:    Bam.

Chuck Bryant:    All right.  So, if an alligator gets you in the mouth or gets the prey in the mouth, they are going to let go at a certain point to get ready to swallow you.

Josh Clark:    While it's in its death roll.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  So they don't, like – no, this is after the death roll.  They juggle you around to get you in a good position to eat.  They don't just start chomping down.

Josh Clark:    Right, because they can't move those huge jaws very easily.

Chuck Bryant:    No.  But they're very strong, so you're not gonna get out of an alligator's jaw.  But they do recommend, if you are attacked, this could be a very risky way to get away, is to wait for, like, play dead and wait for them to release you to try and swallow you.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    Good luck with that.

Josh Clark:    And it specifically says that's your last-ditch effort.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    And it's an extremely risky one because, once you're in the death roll, again, they don't call it the severe-injury roll.

Chuck Bryant:    That's right.

Josh Clark:    Once you feel an alligator clamp down on you, you want to act immediately.  And by acting, you want to just scream, you want to yell, you want to make as much noise as entirely possible because, again, alligators are lazy.  They go for little hanging fruit or a little hanging crawfish.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, meat.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  And if you put up any resistance, they're gonna be, like, "To heck with this.  I'm gonna go after something that doesn't yell.  I don't like my dining things to yell at me.  It's just depressing, you know."

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  And that's probably gonna be your instinct, unless you go into shock or something.

Josh Clark:    Right.

Chuck Bryant:    So do what comes naturally, which is flail and scream and hit them.  And then, if you can, just like the old shark snout −

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    − if you can actually get your wits about you, try to jam a finger in their eyeball, which is a good method for stopping any kind of attack, I think.

Josh Clark:    It's like the eject button.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, during an attack.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    Humans, any kind of animal, if you gouge their eye, they're gonna be, like, "Dude, I've only got two of those."

Josh Clark:    And, "Ow."

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, and, "Ow."  All right.  So that's how to get out – that's how to prevent the death roll.

Josh Clark:    Right.  If you, again though, if you are in a death roll, pretty much try playing dead.

Chuck Bryant:    Nice knowing you.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    Because either you're gonna play dead, or you're gonna be dead, one or the other.

Chuck Bryant:    So crocodiles are a little more aggressive, and that's probably why alligators get a little more of a bad rap.  Crocodiles have been known to come after folks here and there.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    If you're hanging out, fishing, on the shoreline, especially if you're cleaning your fish on the shoreline −

Josh Clark:    That's a bad move.

Chuck Bryant:    − it's a very bad move.  And they are especially aggressive where?  In −

Josh Clark:    Africa and −

Chuck Bryant:    South America or Australia?

Josh Clark:    Australia.

Chuck Bryant:    Of course, they're aggressive in Australia.

Josh Clark:    Well, that's where Crocodile Dundee's from.

Chuck Bryant:    That's right.  So we've coached people on how to fight back.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  And, Chuck, let's take a step back.  We're giving detailed instructions on what to do if you're attacked by an alligator or crocodile.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    Does it ever occur to you that we do stuff like this sometimes?

Chuck Bryant:    Sure.

Josh Clark:    It's crazy.

Chuck Bryant:    It is crazy.  It's "cray," as my wife says.  All right.  So the two reasons you might get attacked by an alligator or a crocodile is, like we said earlier, if you're messing around with their family, or you're just in their territory and it's feeding time, and you're caught unaware; mating season, which is early to mid-summer.

Josh Clark:    Yeah, that's when the adult males will come after you −

Chuck Bryant:    Sure.  Be careful.

Josh Clark:    − because it's, like, "Hey, I don't want you trying to hump my lady.  It's my lady."

Chuck Bryant:    And that brings us, Josh, to the, to me, one of the best sentences on our website, which is, "Many attacks occur −" I'm sorry, two sentences −

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    − "Many attacks occur as a result of people teasing or trying to capture alligators.  Throwing sticks and rocks at alligators may seem harmless, but doing so creates a dangerous situation."  Wow.

Josh Clark:    Yeah, it may seem harmless.

Chuck Bryant:    I read that and was, like, who thinks throwing rocks at an alligator is a harmless act?

Josh Clark:    What's this gonna harm?

Chuck Bryant:    Unless you're, like, Damien from "The Omen," you know.

Josh Clark:    Right.

Chuck Bryant:    What kind of sick, twisted kid does this?

Josh Clark:    A sick, twisted kid, future serial killers.

Chuck Bryant:    All right.  So it's not harmless at all.  It's very harmful.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  Don't throw rocks at any living thing, you jerk.

Chuck Bryant:    No.

Josh Clark:    And you said, when you were on your Okefenokee canoe trip −

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    − that you couldn't see very far down into the water.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    Typically, you want to avoid swimming in just that kind of water −

Chuck Bryant:    Yes.

Josh Clark:    − if you want to avoid being, you know, in an alligator encounter.  Let's call it that.  That's super P.C.

Chuck Bryant:    Okay.

Josh Clark:    If you want to avoid an alligator encounter, you want to swim in areas where the water's pretty clear, and you can see pretty deep into it and areas that are well-groomed, not a lot of shrubbery and grasses and muckiness for an alligator to hide in.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  And don't send little Timmy down there with his beach ball −

Josh Clark:    No.

Chuck Bryant:    − to play along the shoreline of the grassy shoreline.  If you're dad, like we said, don't clean your fish out right there by the shoreline.

Josh Clark:    Moms can clean fish, too.

Chuck Bryant:    That's a good point.

Josh Clark:    Thanks.

Chuck Bryant:    In fact, in some families, dad catches the fish; mom cleans the fish.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  In some families, mom catches the fish, and dad cleans the fish.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  And, in some families, nobody fishes.

Josh Clark:    You just buy a fish at the store.

Chuck Bryant:    You just go to, you know, Arthur Treacher's.  Emily would never clean a fish.  Are you kidding me?

Josh Clark:    Oh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    Good Lord.

Josh Clark:    Umi said she loves cleaning fish.

Chuck Bryant:    Really?

Josh Clark:    Um-hm, where she grew up.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, I could see that because Umi's got spunk.  Emily, if you handed her a knife and said, "Cut this fish's head off," she'd be, like, "Are you kidding me?  What kind of a joke is this?"

Josh Clark:    Yeah.  "Let's just go to Arthur Treacher's."

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, exactly.  You got anything else?

Josh Clark:    Yeah, I do have something else.  You said your cousins would call the Fish and Wildlife Service when they saw an alligator.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    If you see an alligator, no matter how small, you want to alert everybody else, too, that there's alligators because, if you see a baby one, there might be a mom.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    And, also, don't feed alligators.

Chuck Bryant:    Oh, sure, yeah, that's a good point.

Josh Clark:    The reason why is you are basically writing their death sentence, right, which is a weird thing to write, but that's what you're doing −

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    − because alligators who are fed sometimes lose their fear of humans and may come close enough for a terrible alligator encounter.  And any alligator that's seen approaching a human, not out of fear, is gonna be put down with a shovel.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, you shouldn't feed any wildlife like that really −

Josh Clark:    No −

Chuck Bryant:    − because they're −

Josh Clark:    − especially ones that can kill you though.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  They're pretty good at finding their own food −

Josh Clark:    Right.

Chuck Bryant:    − until you start feeding them.  Then they become less good at that, and it just hurts everybody.

Josh Clark:    Basically, you upset the circle of life.

Chuck Bryant:    That's right.

Josh Clark:    You turn it into a rhombus.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    If you want to know more about alligators and zigzags, and you want to see a photo of a person holding a detached human arm from an alligator attack −

Chuck Bryant:    Man, that's crazy.

Josh Clark:    − you can type in, "alligator zigzag" in the search bar at HowStuffWorks.com.  It'll bring up this article.  And I said, "search bar," which means it's time for listener mail.

But, first, Chuck, it's getting to be about that time.  We're, like, a week or so out from the premiere of our television show, "Stuff You Should Know" on Science Channel.

Chuck Bryant:    That's right.  So it's quick plug time −

Josh Clark:    Yes.

Chuck Bryant:    − as we like to call it − Saturday, January 19, Science Channel, 10:00 p.m. Eastern and 10:30 because we're showing two episodes on premiere night −

Josh Clark:    Back to back.

Chuck Bryant:    − after Season 3 premiere of "Idiot Abroad," which is great.

Josh Clark:    Yeah.

Chuck Bryant:    So watch it.  And, hey, you can get it on iTunes the day following the show.

Josh Clark:    Yeah, Sunday mornings, wake up, have some brunch, a little Bloody Mary, download the show.

Chuck Bryant:    That's right.  And you know what?  Science Channel is offering the premiere show for free.

Josh Clark:    That's very nice of them.

Chuck Bryant:    It is very nice.

Josh Clark:    They take good care of us.

Chuck Bryant:    They sure do.

Josh Clark:    They're like the Corleones.

Chuck Bryant:    I hope not.  We'd end up dead.

Josh Clark:    Not if we stay on their good side.  Okay.  So listener mail, right?

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.

Josh Clark:    Okay.

Chuck Bryant:    Guys, I'm gonna call this meth – another one about meth – meth mania.  How about that?

Josh Clark:    Okay.

Chuck Bryant:    "Just finished listening to the podcast, and I thought I would share my experience.  I've never used meth, but I do have bipolar disorder, and the manias I experience have some remarkable corollaries with being high on meth.  I know about these similarities from reading about people's experiences, tweaking, shows like yours, and friends who have actually used meth and some who still do.

"During manias, I will stay up for long periods of time.  I think 60 hours straight was the longest I've ever been without sleep."

Josh Clark:    Wow.

Chuck Bryant:    "I cannot eat.  I cannot even think about eating.  I talk a mile a minute, talk so fast in my head that I don't even realize I am skipping sentences, so people can't follow what I'm saying.

"I can focus on little weird tasks, like you mentioned.  I once decided to transcribe REM's, "It's the End of the World as We Know It" off a CD player, stopping it and starting it.

"A mania is the only time I drink, which is a bad thing because of my medications.

"I will walk for hours, listening to my iPod because music is so amazingly rich and meaningful during a bout of mania.  Once I was pacing the halls of the hospital, and I could feel every nerve firing every muscle cell, tightening and releasing to make me walk."

Josh Clark:    Jeez.

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah.  "Because of these feelings that happen during mania, there are many people with bipolar who will use meth to recapture that feeling, especially in the throes of the opposite pole of soul-sucking depression.

"Once my psychiatrist and I decided to take a very brief course of Methylphenidate Ritalin −" I think it's just a certain type of Ritalin.

Josh Clark:    Okay.

Chuck Bryant:    "I had a paradoxical reaction.  By the time I had taken two doses, I slept for 28 hours.  When I was awake, I was acutely, intensely suicidal."

Josh Clark:    Oh, God.

Chuck Bryant:    "So no amphetamines for me."

Josh Clark:    That's probably a good idea.

Chuck Bryant:    "I wanted to emphasize that meth does play on the brain's existing systems and that the brain itself can even use itself under unusual circumstances."  I'm not sure what that means.

Josh Clark:    I think he just explained it.

Chuck Bryant:    Okay.  "Manias can be very destructive though, guys.  But it does not affect your dentist bills, like using meth."  And that is from Serena Bodine Clark, and she said, "Go ahead and read my name."  I think this is cool.

Josh Clark:    That's awesome.

Chuck Bryant:    Yes.

Josh Clark:    Thanks a lot, Serena, appreciate that.

Chuck Bryant:    Agreed.

Josh Clark:    Let's see.  Alligator story?  Crocodile story?

Chuck Bryant:    Yeah, why not?

Josh Clark:    Have you got one?

Chuck Bryant:    A good one, not, like, "He came up on my yard and yelled at me."

Josh Clark:    Right.  "And I complained."

Chuck Bryant:    Bloodshed only, please.

Josh Clark:    You can Tweet to us, as always, at syskpodcast.  You can send us a nice little note or missive on Facebook.com/stuffyoushouldknow.  And you can send us a good old-fashioned email to stuffpodcast@discovery.com.

Female Speaker:    For more on this and thousands of other topics, visit HowStuffWorks.com.

Male Speaker:    Brought to you by the 2012 Toyota Camry.  It's ready.  Are you?

[End of Audio]

Duration:  26 minutes

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