Discover the Most Alligator-Infested Lakes in Florida in 2024

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: June 25, 2023
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Key Points:
  • There are 1.3 million alligators inhabiting the state of Florida, based on an annual census of 50 sites across the state.
  • Biologists estimate the size of an alligator in the water based on the distance between the eyes. Adult male alligators can measure up to 14 feet long and weigh around 1,000 pounds.
  • Lake Okeechobee, which has a surface area measuring 730 square miles, is the largest lake in Florida, as well as the most alligator-infested lake in the state.

An 11-foot alligator caused a traffic jam just northeast of Orlando on April 27, 2022. Cars backed up as the alligator made its way across State Road 417. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office thought the gator probably came from Lake Jesup, which has a reputation as being a very alligator-infested lake.

However, that begs the question, what is the most alligator-infested lake in Florida? What other lakes have massive 11-foot alligators? Is there a lake near you that is alligator-infested? Let’s find out!

Alligator near cypress trees

Where are the most alligator-infested lakes in Florida? Some lakes have more than 2,000 alligators!

©jaimie tuchman/

Who Counts Alligators?

Every year the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission works with scientists and biologists to count the number of alligators in the state. The annual alligator census is taken at 50 different sites throughout the state.

The numbers are used for a variety of purposes, first to see how the once American Alligator population is doing. 40 years ago the alligators were hunted to the point of being endangered. It is a huge success story that there are now more than 1.3 million alligators in Florida!

Today, the state issues a number of alligator hunting permits to keep their numbers in check. The data from the annual census is used to determine how many permits to issue each year.

What Other Animals Share the Same Habitat As Alligators?

Alligators are found in freshwater habitats such as swamps, marshes, and wetlands, as well as in slow-moving rivers and lakes.

They are native to the southeastern United States, specifically in the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas. In China, alligators are found in the Yangtze River region.

Other animals that share the same habitat as alligators include:

  • Various species of fish, such as catfish, gar, and bass.
  • Turtles, such as the box turtle, the mud turtle, and the red-eared slider turtle.
  • Snakes, such as the cottonmouth, the water moccasin, and the diamondback rattlesnake
  • Birds, such as herons, egrets, ibis, and roseate spoonbills.
  • Various species of mammals, such as raccoons, otters, and muskrats.
  • And many other species of insects, amphibians, and invertebrates

It is important to note that alligators are apex predators and have a significant role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem they live in.

How Do You Count Alligators?

crocodile glowing eyes

Alligators’ eyes look like they glow red at night. They can be counted at night by counting the pair of eyes.

©Alexey Stiop/

Alligators are counted at night. Sound like a scary job? It is! Scientists go out in airboats at night and count the red-glowing eyes of the alligators. They use the distance between the eyes to estimate the size. Any alligator over 9 feet long is considered a “bull” alligator.

Adult male alligators can get to be 14 feet long and weigh around 1,000 pounds. Remember that counts are not exact and some sources vary from year to year. An Orlando News Station posted a map of the lakes in Florida with the alligator counts. Check out this interactive map of alligator counts, including the number of Bull Alligators.

Our list includes the lakes that have more than 100 alligators in this recent count.

What Are the Most Alligator-Infested Lakes in Florida?

The following lakes ranked highest in recent alligator counts. Remember that these are exact counts of alligators and total population estimates are higher. For example, estimates of Lake Okeechobee alligator populations stretch as high as about 30,000 alligators while estimates for Lake Jessup’s population reach 13,000.

It’s also worth noting this list is a total count of alligators in different lakes. Lake Jessup’s alligator count is especially notable for how small it is. The lake has just 25 square miles of surface area, yet it contains thousands of alligators. It’s estimated to be among the densest concentration of alligators for a large lake in America, although Lake Okeechobee has more alligators thanks to its massive size (730 square miles).

Infographic of 5 Most Alligator-Infested Lakes in Florida
This list of lakes is based on exact counts of alligators (total population estimates are higher).

#5 Lake Kissimmee

Lake Kissimmee

One of the parks where you might see alligators is Lake Kissimmee State Park.

© Vilas Boas

  • Alligator count: 2,065
  • Area of Florida: South-Central
  • County: Osceola County

If you want to try to see an alligator for yourself you should visit Lake Kissimmee State Park. Remember to always keep your distance from wildlife. It is recommended to stay at least 60 feet away from alligators. Use the zoom feature on your camera to catch the best photos. Do not risk getting too close to an alligator. They can react quickly and attack with little warning if you get too close.

#4 Lake Jesup

Lake Jesup

Lake Jesup may look like a peaceful lake, but there are more than 2,000 alligators swimming around in it!

©Thomas Decot/

  • Alligator count: 2,414
  • Area of Florida: Central
  • County: Seminole County

Some estimates of alligators in Lake Jesup are as high as 13,000, so this is definitely one of the most alligator-infested lakes in Florida. It is a 16,000-acre freshwater lake along the St. John’s River. Some of the locals joke about not being able to skip a rock in the lake without hitting an alligator in the head!

#3 Lake George

Lake George is the second largest lake in the state of Florida and home to a myriad of wildlife and fish species

©TampAGS, for AGS Media / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

  • Alligator count: 2,660
  • Area of Florida: Eastern
  • County: Volusia County

Lake George is a shallow lake on the St. John’s River, considered the second-largest lake next to Lake Okeechobee. Alligators thrive in this lake and along the banks of the river. During the cooler winter months, you may see alligators basking in the sun along the shoreline. Because they are cold-blooded reptiles they need to regulate their temperature by adjusting to the environment.

#2 Orange Lake

Alligator in Swamp

You might see an alligator like this if you visit Orange Lake!

©Thierry Eidenweil/

  • Alligator count: 2,732
  • Area of Florida: Central
  • County: Alachua County

Orange Lake is a 19.61 square mile lake (12,550 acres), the largest lake in north-central Florida. If you are an angler you will know that Orange Lake is a good place to catch Bluegill, crappie, sunfish, and largemouth bass. It is right next to Lake Lochloosa which has a recent count of 338 alligators. It is likely that males travel between the two lakes looking for mates during the mating season.

#1 Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is the largest lake in Florida. It is one of the most alligator-infested lakes in Florida!

©Allison Michael/

  • Alligator count: 9,308
  • Area of Florida: South-Central
  • Counties: Glades, Hendry, Martin, Okeechobee, and Palm Beach

Lake Okeechobee is the largest lake in Florida. It has a surface area of 730 square miles. Biologists performing the alligator census break the count into different regions of the lake due to the large size. This lake is not only home to most alligators it has more than 40 native fish species and a variety of birds like egrets, herons, and ibises. Though 9,308 alligators have been officially “counted,” the estimated number of gators in Lake Okeechobee is a staggering 30,000!

List of 30 Alligator-Infested Lakes in Florida

Here’s a list of alligators per lake from the recent count. Remember that their actual populations are likely much larger and this is an actual count of alligators that were spotted!

Group of Alligators

There are 1.3 million alligators in Florida. Check the list below to see if you live near one of the most alligator-infested lakes in Florida!

©Robert Gregory Griffeth/

  1. Lake Okeechobee: 9,308, south-central, Glades, Hendry, Martin, Okeechobee, and Palm Beach counties
  2. Orange Lake: 2,732, central, Alachua County
  3. Lake George: 2,660, eastern, Volusia County
  4. Lake Jesup: 2,414 central, Seminole County
  5. Lake Kissimmee: 2,065, south-central, Osceola County
  6. Lake Istokpoga: 1,321 south-central, Highland County
  7. Lake Hatchineha: 1,287, central, Polk County
  8. Kenansville Lake: 1,188, southeast
  9. Lake Rousseau: 708, western, Levy County
  10. Newnan’s Lake: 657, central, Alachua County
  11. Lake Apopka: 634, central, Orange County
  12. Lake Panasoffkee: 576, western, Sumter County
  13. Hancock: 559, central, Polk County
  14. Lake Griffin: 534, central, Lake County
  15. Blue Cypress Lake: 499, southeast
  16. Lake Miccosukee: 472, northwest, Jefferson County
  17. Lochloosa Lake: 338, central, Alachua County
  18. Lake Pierce: 314, central, Polk County
  19. Marion: 275, southeast, Osceola County
  20. Lake Seminole: 238, western coast, Pinellas County
  21. Crescent Lake: 214, eastern, Putnam County
  22. Lake Weohyakapka: 195, central, Polk County
  23. Lake Arbuckle: 168, central, Polk County
  24. Dexter: 166, central, Polk County
  25. Lake Lamonia: 144, northwest, Leon County
  26. Lake Monroe: 138, eastern, Volusia County
  27. Johns Lake: 124, central, Orange County
  28. Lake Wimico: 113, northwest, Gulf County
  29. Lake Hicpochee: 109, south-central, Glades County
  30. Honorable Mention: Alligator Lake: 47, central, Osceola County: Although Alligator Lake did not have more than 100 alligators in the recent count, they have to be mentioned for their namesake alone. It is a semi-rural lake so it is not as touristy as GatorWorld for sure. People live on Alligator Lake! I am not a realtor, but that would be a hard sell for me. You could book a room at the Lakeside Inn and Café in St. Cloud, Florida if you feel like spending some time in an alligator-infested lake in Florida!

How Long Do Alligators Live?

The typical alligator can live between 30 and 50 years. Some of these ancient animals can live close to 80 years, though this is often the animals in captivity. The oldest living alligator lives in the Belgrade Zoo in Serbia and is supposed to be over 85 years old!

Alligators are often safe from predators except for humans and occasionally other alligators. Humans do a lot of damage to alligators, from hunting to habitat loss and contamination from pesticides and fertilizers that cause an alligator’s demise.

Interestingly, alligators have no finite life span. This is called negligible senescence or coined “biologically immortal.” These organisms do not exhibit the signs of biological aging; they just continue to grow in size. However, they obviously don’t live forever. If they didn’t experience disease, accidents, or rarely another large predator that sped along their death, a lack of food is another large reason. They might have a harder time hunting, lose teeth along the way, or the area does not offer the resources they need, so the alligators pass away from starvation.

Summary of the Top 5 Most Alligator-Infested Lakes in Florida 2024

Here’s a recap of the lakes in the state of Florida that are the most alligator-infested.

RankLakeAlligator CountArea of Florida
1Lake Okeechobee9,308South-Central
2Orange Lake2,732Central
3Lake George2,660Eastern
4Lake Jesup2,414Central
5Lake Kissimmee2,065South-Central

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

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What was the largest alligator ever found in Florida?

In 2020 a 13 foot alligator in Florida was measured at 1,0008 pounds. The largest Florida alligator in terms of length is reported to be 17 feet and 5 inches long.

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