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The southern United States might not be home to king cobras, polar bears, or koalas, but it is home to the famous American alligator. Alligators are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Alabama, you can even visit a place called Gator Alley in this southern state. But, if youre looking to take a dip in one of Alabamas beautiful lakes, you might want to think twice before taking the plunge. Alabama just might be home to some of the most alligator-infested lakes in the world.
Here, well discover just about everything there is to know about alligator-infested lakes in Alabama. Well go over the alligators appearance, behavior, and life cycle. Then, well take a closer look at the alligators favorite foods and how they hunt them. After that, well go over just where you can find alligators in Alabama and what you need to do to stay safe around them.
Read on to learn more about alligator-infested lakes in Alabama!
Are there Alligators in Alabama?
If youre not from the southern United States, it might seem strange to think about gigantic, semi-aquatic, carnivorous reptiles living in waters. But, its true: there are alligators in Alabama. In fact, alligators can be found everywhere, from Florida in the southeast to North Carolina and Texas in the north and west (respectively).
Alligators stick primarily to the freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, and marshlands of southern Alabama. But, there are increasing reports of alligators in the northern half of the state. If youre looking for alligator-infested lakes in southern Alabama, you likely wont have to look too hard.
Are there Crocodiles in Alabama?
While Alabama is home to the infamous, at times terrifying, American alligator, crocodiles are completely absent. Both alligators and crocodiles are crocodilians, thanks to their shared Order, Crocodilia. However, the largest crocodilians in the world, the Nile and saltwater crocodile, are not found in Alabama. In fact, theyre not native to North America at all. The only species of crocodilian native to North America is the American alligator.
Species Profile: Alligator
Alligators are the largest reptiles in North America. The biggest can grow up to 15 feet long and weigh nearly one thousand pounds. Males are slightly bigger than females. They have long, scaly bodies and relatively short legs, with lengthy, powerful tails. Alligators are dark green-brown on their sides and backs and pale tan on their bellies. Like crocodiles, they have mouths full of teeth designed for grabbing and holding onto prey. When alligators close their mouths, only their top teeth remain visible.
Alligator-infested lakes in Alabama are generally home not only to adult alligators but to babies as well. Females build nests along permanent sources of water. Once theyre ready, they lay their eggs in these nests. Female alligators will aggressively guard their nests and even their young. Young alligators face threats from just about everything, including catfish, bigger alligators, eagles, snapping turtles, and feral pigs.
What do Alligators Eat?
Alligators are obligate carnivores. This means that they need only meat to survive, and theyre excellent hunters. Alligators wait for prey in the water; they can remain submerged for up to an hour. Once some unlucky creaturelike a fish, turtle, rat, deer, or bird, crosses their path, the alligator lunges in one quick strike.
Do Lakes in Alabama have Alligators?
The answer is yes; alligators inhabit all types of permanent freshwater, including slow-moving rivers and streams, marshlands and swamps, and lakes. This is particularly true in the southern half of Alabama, where alligators live in large numbers. Alligators are common in Alabama anywhere there is a source of fresh (not salty), permanent water, and plenty of food to eat.
Staying Safe Around Alligators in Alabama
Seeing an alligator in the wild is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in Alabama. But, if you do see one, remember: alligators are wild animals and should be treated with respect and caution. Never approach or feed a wild alligator and never swim in alligator-infested lakes. If you find a nest or see a baby alligator, do not disturb it, as its likely the mom is nearby.
Are American Alligators Endangered?
Today, alligators are plentiful in Alabama and other southern states, but that wasnt always the case. Commercial hunting of these prehistoric creatures nearly wiped them out in the first half of the twentieth century. Then, in the 1970s, American alligators were placed on the endangered species list, which made it illegal to hunt them. Since then, their numbers have rebounded. Today, alligator-infested lakes in Alabama are not hard to find.
Where to See Alligators in Alabama
If you want to see an alligator in Alabama, you have several excellent options. First, tourist attractions like Alligator Alley and Gator Boardwalk promise viewing of not just one but many alligators. If youre more adventurous, check out some of the alligator-infested lakes in the southern half of the state. Just remember: dont go swimming with alligators, and never feed or disturb them.