An alligator dragged a 12-year-old swimmer underwater in a lake, but the boy punched the reptile and swam safely to shore.
Malcolm Locke was treated for cuts and scrapes that were not considered life-threatening.
He was bitten while swimming Wednesday in Lake Diana, near his grandmother’s house just north of Orlando.
He saw the alligator’s tail first, he said. “It was coming right at me,” he told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday.
Malcolm, who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall, tried to swim away, but the alligator, which was 4 to 6 feet long, attacked his head and pulled him underwater, officials said.
“It took a bite out of my head and a big chunk out of my ear,” Malcolm said.
He punched the alligator, and “it just squirmed away,” he said. He swam to shore, and a neighbor drove him to a hospital.
A trapper was sent to the lake to remove the alligator.
The boy’s mother, Misty Warren, said the family has seen alligators in the area before, but none had ever bothered them.
The best thing to do during an alligator attack is struggle, make noise and create confusion, said Joy Hill, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“Malcolm did the right thing,” Hill said. “He fought the alligator, and it let him go.”