Are There Alligators in Any Parts of West Virginia?

Written by Megan Martin
Updated: November 7, 2023
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Quick Answer

  • There are no species of alligator native to West Virginia.
  • An alligator would be unable to survive a winter in West Virginia.

If you’ve ever been swimming in the state of West Virginia, you may have wondered what animals lurk just beneath the surface. This may have led to the question of whether or not there are alligators in West Virginia.

To learn more about the American alligators, as well as if they live in this state, continue reading below!

Are Alligators Native to West Virginia?

There are no species of alligator native to West Virginia. In fact, the United States is home to only one of these reptilian species, the American alligator, and it prefers a much different habitat. 

Alligators prefer to live in warm, aquatic territories. This includes swamps, marshes, and even some estuaries. They are able to survive within nearly all the freshwater sources of their natural range, and they can also swim in brackish water. They are native to the southeastern and southern coasts of the United States, from Texas east to Florida, and from Florida north to North Carolina. 

An alligator would be unable to survive a winter in West Virginia. Once the water reached too cool of a temperature, they would be unable to surface from the depths of the water. As a result of this, they would drown.


Alligators are native to the American southeast.


Alligator Sightings in West Virginia

Alligator sightings in West Virginia are few and far between. However, they do occur.

One of the most recent occurrences was in August 2019. A motorist had reported seeing an alligator along the side of the road, and, when officers arrived on the scene, they realized it wasn’t a hoax. The ‘gator measured around 3.5 feet long. Because of its size, when the officers arrived, they taped its mouth shut to prevent any dangerous bites. An alligator would be unlikely to survive a winter in West Virginia, so it is thought to have been a pet someone released. Alligators are just one of several illegal animals to be kept as pets in the state.

In many cases, invasive alligators are often euthanized. However, in the case of this alligator, a group within the state safely transported it to South Carolina. This state is within the native range of the reptile.

Another sighting occurred in 2010. This alligator was much larger, around five feet in length, and was euthanized. 

Alligator in Florida catches a turtle and eats it.

There have been alligator sightings in West Virginia in the past.

©Jaimie Tuchman/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ernie Hounshell/

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About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

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