- Alabama is home to 70,000 alligators, which live in its lakes, rivers, and swamps, mostly confined to the state’s southern half although their range seems to be advancing slowly yet surely northwards.
- Alligators range between 6 and 15 feet in length and 800-1,200 pounds in weight.
- The largest alligator ever found in Alabama was 15 feet 9 inches long and weighed 1,011.5 pounds.
There are only a few states in the U.S. that have alligators, and Alabama is one of them. You can find alligators in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, parts of North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, and Southern Texas. Louisiana and Florida have the most alligators, but one of the biggest alligators ever found was caught in Alabama. Until you see one in the wild or at a zoo, you may not realize just how big these lizard-like animals get. Let’s find out about the biggest alligator ever found in Alabama!
How Big Is an Average Alligator?
Alligators are typically 6-15 feet long and can weigh 800-1,200 pounds. There are two species of alligators: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator. Chinese alligators are quite a bit smaller with most not getting bigger than 5 feet long. This small group of alligators is listed as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN which is one step away from “Extinct in the Wild.” The American alligator population used to be endangered but conservationists have brought the numbers back to healthy population levels.
How Big Is the Biggest Alligator Ever Found in Alabama?
The largest alligator ever found in Alabama was 15 feet 9 inches long and weighed 1,011.5 pounds! It is the largest alligator legally hunted in Alabama. Hunter Mandy Stokes and her crew including her husband, brother-in-law, and his two teenage kids were all a part of the epic hunt. The giant alligator was found in the Alabama River, northwest of Montgomery. The crew wrestled the alligator for five hours before subduing it and bringing it in. They hauled it to a local state park where they got it officially measured and weighed. The alligator was so big that it broke the winch that was built to hoist the alligator up. If you want to see this record-breaking alligator, it is on display at the Mann Wildlife Learning Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.
Where Do Alligators Live in Alabama?
Alligators are in the southern half of Alabama. There is evidence that the alligators’ range is inching north so they could move into Tennessee someday. For now, they prefer the warmer southern part of the state. Currently, there are around 70,000 alligators in Alabama. Alligators are freshwater animals and live in lakes, rivers, marshes, and brackish swamps.
Where Are the Most Alligator-Infested Areas in Alabama?
If you want to see an alligator for yourself or you want to be sure to avoid alligators here are some of the top hangouts for alligators in Alabama:
- Escambia River
- Perdido River
- Alabama River
- Lake Eufala
- Lake Forest
- Big Creek Lake
- Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.
Are There Any Alligator Parks in Alabama?
Many tourists want an up-close and personal experience with alligators. You should never approach a wild alligator or try to feed them. Alligator Alley is an alligator farm in Summerdale, AL where visitors are able to learn about these amazing creatures in a safe structured environment. There is an elevated boardwalk with alligator viewing below. Guided tours teach visitors about the alligator’s natural habitat and how they fill an important role in the ecosystem. All of the alligators at the farm are rescue alligators and they are given a second chance by remaining at the park. There are also great opportunities to see other wildlife like osprey, turtles, owls, and bullfrogs.
Do Alligators Attack People?
Alligators can attack people but attacks and fatalities are rare. According to the International Shark Attack File (which also monitors alligator conflicts), there have been 5 alligator bites in Alabama and 0 fatalities. Florida is one of the states with the most alligators with 1.3 million gators, as you can expect they have a higher number of alligator bites. They have had 351 alligator bites and 17 fatalities. However, looking at the statistics for Louisiana is a bit confusing. Louisiana has 2 million alligators and only 2 reported bites and 0 fatalities. Texas has the second-highest rate of bites with 15 and with 0 fatalities.
What Is the Heaviest Alligator Ever in the U.S.?
The heaviest alligator was caught by Mike “Hammer” Cottingham of Arkansas. An avid alligator hunter, he, his four-man crew of friends and his son-in-law went out on the opening night, September 14, of the 2012 alligator season. Experienced hunters, they were ready with an 18-foot, custom-built Alweld boat. Although the alligator they caught was not 18 feet long, it was too heavy for the boat. The five grown men were not able to get it into the boat because it was so heavy. They had to drag it along next to the boat to a boat ramp where they rolled it into the boat with the help of ropes. Mike Harris from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission measured and weighed the giant gator. He found it was 13 feet 3 inches long and weighed 1,380 pounds!
What Do You Need to Do If You Want to Hunt an Alligator in Alabama?
Mark your calendar because registration for permits opens June 6, 2023 (8 a.m. CDT) and closes July 11, 2023 at 8 a.m. You have to be a resident of Alabama and a Lifetime License holder to apply for a tag. Only people over the age of 16 can apply. There are not enough tags for everyone who wants one, so they run a lottery of sorts each year to select those who get an Alligator Possession tag. While you wait, take the required online Alligator Training Course. If you get a tag you will have a chance to hunt and find the next largest alligator ever found in Alabama!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rod Zadeh/Shutterstock.com
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