- Georgia is one of the 10 states in North America with a native alligator population.
- About 200,000 to 300,000 of the massive beasts live in the state.
- The largest alligator ever caught in Georgia was 14 feet long and weighed over 700 pounds.
Alligators are the largest reptiles in North America and some of the largest in the world. These massive animals never stop growing, meaning that the longer they live, the bigger they get. In the American southeast, alligators are just a part of life. Still, most of the time, the alligators you encounter are quite small (in comparison to the largest). In some places, however, these reptiles can grow absolutely huge! Recently, a new state record was broken when one man caught the largest on record. Let’s learn about the biggest alligator ever found in Georgia.
Do Alligators Live in Georgia?
Although it isn’t common knowledge, alligators do, in fact, live in Georgia! These scaly reptiles need warm, sunny places to live due to their cold-blooded nature. As a result, alligators live across the southeast, particularly in the coastal regions of the states. There are 10 states in the U.S. that have native gator populations, and Georgia happens to be one of them.
While the top three states are quite famous for having gators (Louisana, Florida, and Texas), Georgia is number four on the list. Most experts guess that there are between 200,000 and 300,000 alligators across the state. Knowing that, it’s no wonder that one of the largest ever seen was caught only a few years ago!
What Is the Biggest Alligator Ever Found in Georgia?
The largest alligator ever found in Georgia was 14 feet long and more than 700 pounds.
Measuring and weighing alligators can be quite tough! Generally, the largest alligators on record are the direct result of hunting tags, especially since measurements are always taken after a kill. As a result, the largest alligator ever “found” in Georgia is also the largest alligator ever caught in the state.
The truly massive gator was just over 14 feet long and weighed over 700 pounds. It was caught in Lake Eufaula by the Lethal Guide Service hunting team back in 2019. Since then, the record has held steady, although a few have gotten close to breaking it. Officially, the record is owned by Derrick Snelson and his daughter, Shelby Snelson, as they had hired the guides to take them out on an alligator hunt.
In Georgia, getting a tag to hunt an alligator is a long process. Additionally, you only get one tag per year, so you need to make it count. The team ended up spending a whopping six hours tracking the gator before they were finally able to get a hook in it. Incredibly, it was Derrick Snelson’s second-ever alligator hunt (and his daughter’s first). After taking the reptile to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for proper measurement, they knew they now held the record!
Before the Snelsons’ record-breaking catch, the previous record was a 10-foot 10.75-inch gator.
Where Do Alligators Live in Georgia?
The biggest alligator ever caught in Georgia was found in Lake Eufaula, a lake in the far southwest of the state along the Alabama state line. In the state of Georgia, however, gators can be found in a few other places.
Since alligators need warm and sunny weather to thermoregulate, they are generally found in the southern portions of states. Georgia is no different, especially with how cold it can get further north in the region during the winter. As a general rule, alligators in Georgia can be found south of the state’s “fall line.” The fall line travels through Columbus, Macon, and Augusta and separates the coastal plain and swamp region from the more temperate region of the north.
Although gators are occasionally found north of the line, it is almost always the result of intentional introduction by humans.
What Is the Average Size of an Alligator?
Alligators are among the largest animals in the United States. On average, males grow to 11.2 feet long, and females grow to 8.2 feet long. Still, the largest males can reach lengths of more than 15 feet long and weigh up to 1,200 pounds.
Alligators grow their entire lives, meaning that the larger a gator is, the older it is. For the record gator that was caught at over 14 feet, it was probably over 70 years old!
Where Do Alligators Grow the Largest (and Smallest)?
The biggest factor that impacts an alligator’s growth rate is the weather. As a result, the warmer states have a higher gator population and larger reptiles overall. Since a baby alligator may be small prey for longer in the colder regions, the populations are less likely to grow as fast. In warmer states where the baby gators can grow fast, populations are more likely to thrive.
The largest alligators in the United States live in Louisiana and Florida since there isn’t a “cold season” like there is in most of the other states. Since the gators in these regions don’t have to brumate (hibernating for reptiles), they can grow year-round.
The smallest alligators (by population and size) are found in North Carolina and in a tiny region of Oklahoma. North Carolina has a population of a couple of thousand gators, but they are generally smaller than other states. Oklahoma only has a tiny population of gators, likely under 200 individuals.
The largest alligator to ever be recorded was found on Marsh Island, Louisiana. This beast measured 19 feet and 2 inches and weighed around 2,200 pounds!
Do Crocodiles or Caimans Live in Georgia?
Crocodiles can only be found in southern Florida’s coastal regions, which happen to be the northernmost part of their range.
They can easily be distinguished from their alligator cousins by their triangular snouts and paler skin.
There aren’t any caiman in Georgia either since these crocodilians prefer warmer climes. Hence like crocs, North America’s population can also be found in south Florida, where they are likely to remain owing to its tropical climate.
In spite of having a similar snout to alligators, they can easily be distinguished from crocodilians by their rougher scales and smaller sizes since they only grow to 5 feet at the most.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © tswinner/Shutterstock.com
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