James Barney had gone for a swim in East Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida, when he felt a strong tug, then a sharp pain on his backside. He quickly realised that he was being bitten by a large alligator.
"I felt its jaw. I felt its teeth," Barney was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying on Friday, recounting the previous day's harrowing encounter with the gator that was about 500 pounds.
Barney told the astonishing tale to the media from his bed at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children of Orlando.
The boy said after he realised it was an alligator, he started hitting the gator as hard as he could.
"I was scared. I didn't know what to do...I had enough strength to pry open its jaws," James recalled.
He then slipped out of its grip and frantically swam to shore.
"I yelled, 'Help, help,'" James said. "Some people came over and pulled me in."
Barney's friend, who was on the pier when the alligator attacked quickly called 911.
"My friend got bit by an alligator at the lakefront," the caller exclaimed to a dispatcher as Barney was being pulled ashore crying and bleeding.
Barney suffered three superficial bites, mostly on his buttocks, and about 30 teeth marks and claw scratches on his back, stomach and legs. He was airlifted to Arnold Palmer.
Doctors also found a gator's tooth embedded in one of the boy's wounds.
Barney told the medical staff that he wanted to keep it as a souvenir to show off.
"It was a pretty big tooth," Barney said. "I want to put it on a necklace so then I can tell all my friends."
But the tooth was handed off to officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to help them identify the gator once it is trapped.