9-foot gator lunges and bites Florida farm worker picking peppers

PLANT CITY, Florida — A farmworker picking baby bell peppers was bitten in the thigh when a 9-foot, 4-inch “agitated alligator” crept up on him, lunched and bit him in the thigh, authorities said.

Ender Esquivel, 24, grabbed the gator by the nose, and it let go of him but was preparing to make another lungem according to Treasure Coast Newspapers.

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“In that moment it let go, and it wanted to bite me again, but in that moment I jumped and distanced myself from where he was,” Esquivel told Treasure Coast Newspapers.

He said his instinct and adrenaline must have kicked in because all he felt was that it bit him and shook its snout “to destabilize and throw me.” His quick action may have saved his life.

The incident happened by a canal in the pepper fields. Esquivel was bitten out of the water near thick brush along the canal. Gators are ambush predators who like to grab their prey and drag it into the water.

Esquivel’s co-workers pulled him from the area and called the supervisor. He was taken to a nearby hospital with “non-life-threatening injuries. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office called it “a significant injury with puncture wounds.”

Esquivel said it was his first time being bit by an alligator, but it’s common to see alligators there. He had spotted the one in question a long way off, but didn’t think much of it. He noticed it had come closer about 20 minutes before the bite, but he kept picking peppers.

“I never imagined that this could happen,” Esquivel said in Spanish during an interview last Thursday.

Martin County sheriff’s deputies said the investigation was turned over to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials.

The sheriff’s office said in a social media post that the alligator was removed from the area.

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