Discover the Most Dangerous Animals Lurking in Alabama’s Lakes and Marshes

Lake Martin, Alabama

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: July 5, 2023

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Alabama is an interesting state. Most of the lakes in the state were created with a dam. Still, many animals call the lakes, marshes, and ponds home. Did you know some of them are dangerous? Follow along to discover the most dangerous animals lurking in Alabama’s lakes and marshes.

Is it Safe to Swim in Alabama’s Lakes and Marshes?

Swimming is a favorite activity for many, especially during summer. The summers in Alabama are hot and humid, perfect weather for taking a swim. But is it safe to swim in Alabama lakes and marshes? Although you can swim in many Alabama lakes, maybe don’t jump into your closest marsh. American alligators frequently blend in with the surface of the water and although humans aren’t their main diet, they attack when threatened.

Many lakes though are safe for swimming. Some of the most popular swimming lakes in Alabama include Lake Martin, Smith Lake, and Weiss Lake. One lake you shouldn’t swim in is Lake Eufaula, which is filled with American alligators!

Alligators though are just one risk when it comes to swimming in Alabama lakes. In the summer, there is a higher risk of contracting illnesses from bacteria. Before swimming in an Alabama lake, check online to ensure there are no warnings of E.coli or similar bacteria.

The Most Dangerous Animals “in” Alabama’s Lakes and Marshes

Truthfully, there aren’t many dangerous animals living in Alabama’s marshes or lakes. Instead, there are more dangerous animals that live in forests and wooded areas around lakes, marshes, and ponds. Listed below are some of Alabama’s most dangerous animals in and around lakes.

American Alligators

The first animal is the most obvious one, the American alligator. In Alabama, there are an estimated 70,000 American alligators. However, these gators typically live in the southern portion of the state. Although some isolated reports have been published on alligators in northern Alabama, these instances are rare and don’t mean the number is growing.

American alligators are apex predators. They are massive reptiles that can grow past 12 feet long. Thankfully, alligator attacks in Alabama are rare. So far, there have been no recorded alligator-related fatalities in the state and only about 5 attacks. Although alligator attacks are rare, you should still stay clear of them in their natural habitat. Don’t feed alligators either as they are wild animals and this can condition them to become used to humans.


There are about 70,000 American alligators in Alabama.

© Larson

Cottonmouth Snakes

Another dangerous animal found near or in Alabama’s lakes and marshes is the venomous cottonmouth snake. This venomous snake displays its fangs when it’s threatened. It’s about 31 inches or longer and can weigh up to 20.44 ounces. The largest recorded cottonmouth was 74 inches long. This semi-aquatic animal is found in shallow lakes, swamps, and brackish water. Since Alabama has all of these habitats, it’s not surprising to know that cottonmouths are common in the state.

Their venom is very toxic. You should avoid cottonmouths if possible as the highly toxic venom can kill you. The venom destroys the tissue and the area sometimes requires amputation.

Cottonmouths are considered to be one of the few semi-aquatics snakes in the world.

Cottonmouth snakes are highly dangerous as their venom is very toxic.

©jo Crebbin/

American Black Bears

While American black bears aren’t aquatic, they do live near lakes and marshes in Alabama. In the state, there is an estimated 200 black bears left. Most of the bears are the Florida subspecies. American black bears are very strong and are capable of killing humans. Although they can harm humans, black bears typically stay away from people. While this is true, you should never bother a black bear. If you see a black bear, back up slowly while keeping eye contact and speak in a loud, but calm voice. It’s important to make yourself look as big as possible.

Black bears are smaller than grizzly bears. They weigh about 90 to 550 pounds. Female black bears are smaller, weighing a third less than their male counterparts. Not all American black bears have thick black coats. Some are cinnamon, blonde, or white.

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

American black bears rarely interact with or attack humans.

©Holly Kuchera/


Another dangerous animal lurking in Alabama is the coyote. Coyotes are found throughout Alabama. They are a common species and live in both urban and rural areas. The exact amount of coyotes in the state is unknown, but there could be over 100,000. Coyotes live in wooded areas near lakes or ponds. They are carnivores and consume fish, small mammals, and reptiles.

Coyotes are smaller than wolves but are just as ferocious. While most coyotes ignore humans or stay away from them, these animals pose a threat to domestic pets, including small dogs. They are also a threat to livestock. Many farmers in Alabama complain about coyotes and the damage they do.

coyote in sunlight

There could be over 100,000 coyotes living in Alabama.

©Mircea Costina/

Summary of the Most Dangerous Animals “in” Alabama’s Lakes and Marshes

Here are some of the Most Dangerous Animals found in or around Alabama’s Lakes and Marshes:

RankDangerous Animals
1American Alligators
2Cottonmouth Snakes
3American Black Bears

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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