Is Lake Poinsett the Alligator Capital of Florida?

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Written by Brandi Allred

Updated: February 10, 2023

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American alligators are one of only two extant alligator species on Earth, the other being the Chinese alligator. Alligators are found in all of Florida’s fresh waters, including Lake Poinsett on the eastern side of the state. But is this little-known lake really Florida’s alligator capital?

Here, we’ll discover just how many alligators are thought to live in Lake Poinsett and why they call this lake home. We’ll also learn a little more about alligators in the process and find out whether or not it’s safe to swim in the lake. Finally, we’ll take a look at a few of the key steps you can take to stay safe around gators when traveling, or living, in Florida.

Keep reading to learn whether Lake Poinsett really is Florida’s alligator capital!

All About Alligators

alligator

Alligators can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh around 1,000 pounds.

©Jim Schwabel/Shutterstock.com

Alligators are crocodilians, which means they’re closely related to crocodiles, gharials, and caimans. These apex predators are obligate carnivores, which means they eat only meat. The American alligator has a lifespan of 30-50 years, so they are a threat to the human and animal life around them for a long time. Let’s take a look at where these prehistoric beasts live and what they look like.

Habitat and Range

American alligators can be found throughout all of Florida. They live exclusively in freshwater, particularly in areas with lots of vegetation overhanging the water. They can also be found as far north as coastal North Carolina and as far west as Texas. Like crocodiles, alligators rely largely on murky waters from which they can ambush prey.

Size and Appearance

The largest alligators grow up to 14 feet long and weigh around 1,000 pounds, but alligators start as tiny hatchlings that measure under one foot long. Their entire bodies are covered in dark green scales that can rebuff even the toughest of attacks. Alligators have long, powerful tails and short legs tipped with claws. 

But perhaps their most striking feature is the head. Gators are uniquely adapted to grab and hold onto prey, like fish, turtles, snakes, and even deer. Their teeth are conical, and they have some of the most powerful jaws on the planet. All of that combined makes them deadly killing machines.

Just How Many Alligators Are There in Lake Poinsett?

close-up of alligator

A view of those powerful jaws! According to a survey by the FWC, Lake Poinsett is home to at least 2,189 gators.

©Kate33/Shutterstock.com

Located in Brevard County, Florida, Poinsett Lake covers just over 4,300 acres. According to a Florida Fish and Wildlife survey, the lake is home to at least 2,189 gators. At the time of counting, researchers identified 140 alligators over nine feet long, otherwise known as bull gators, living in the lake. But is that enough to make Lake Poinsett the alligator capital of Florida? It might seem like a lot, but there are actually several Florida lakes with many more gators living in them than in Lake Poinsett.

Why Are There So Many Alligators in Lake Poinsett?

Lake Poinsett is a shallow freshwater lake with plenty of accessible shoreline. That makes it the perfect habitat for both humans and gators. Gators love densely vegetated waters with plenty of fish, which makes Poinsett Lake the perfect home. Unfortunately, because humans also live on the lake’s shores, human/alligator conflicts are inevitable. Despite the high number of gators living in Lake Poinsett, the lake still isn’t the alligator capital of Florida.

The Most Alligator-Infested Lake in Florida

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is the alligator capital of Florida with 30,000 alligators in its waters.

©Allison Michael/Shutterstock.com

With an estimated 30,000 alligators currently living in its waters, there is no doubt that Lake Okeechobee is the alligator capital of Florida. When surveyed, Lake Poinsett was shown to have at least 2,189 gators. But it’s very likely that there are actually far more alligators living in the lake. Surveys can only account for a certain percentage of the total number of gators in any given area. This means that, while there are a staggering number of gators in Lake Okeechobee; there are still a great many gators living in Lake Poinsett.

Can You Swim in Florida Lakes?

Florida is home to the American alligator, as is all of the coastal southeastern United States. Gators only live in freshwater, like lakes and canals, but does that make those waters unsafe? 

In general, yes. Alligators are apex predators; adults can easily overpower and kill a human. So, if you’re planning on recreating in Florida’s fresh waters, stick to activities that keep you in a boat or on the land.

Alligator Safety Tips

In recent years, both alligator attacks, and the sport of alligator hunting, have increased. This is partly due to the increasing human population and the fact that more and more people are moving into alligator territory. If you’re in Florida, remember to stay at least ten feet back from any sources of fresh water, like lakes or rivers. Further, keep all pets on a leash and far back from the water. Finally, never feed any alligators, no matter how cute they may be.

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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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