Gator facts


American alligators are on the federal endangered species list within the category of “Threatened Due to Similarity of
Appearance,” because they closely resemble the American crocodile, which is endangered. In Florida, alligators are classified as “species of special concern.” Alligators can be legally taken only with proper permits and licenses.

Where are they?

Alligators can be found in all 67 Florida counties, in and around fresh, brackish and occasionally salt water. Florida is thought to be home to more than a million alligators, based on an estimated 6.7 million acres of suitable habitat.

What do they eat?

Alligators generally will eat whatever is available to them and will mostly go after prey they can overpower easily. Most alligators are naturally afraid of humans but may lose that fear when people feed them. It is illegal to feed wild alligators. Gators seldom bite people for reasons other than food. Females may protect their nests by hissing and opening their mouths to frighten intruders.


Female alligators rarely exceed 10 feet in length, but males can grow much larger. The Florida state record for length is a 14 feet, 3 1/2-inch male from Lake Washington in Brevard County. The Florida record for weight is a 1,043 pound male from Orange Lake in Alachua County.

SOURCE: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Alligator on a home's porch. (Tim Donovan, FWC)
(Tim Donovan, FWC)

Florida wildlife officers say a gator can be considered a "nuisance alligator" if it's at leat 4 feet long and "believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property."

Why aren't they just relocated?

FWC says gators often try to return to their capture site. In order to mitigate this, they'd need to be taken to a remote location that would likely have established gators. The gators that already live there would likely try to fight the new gator, which could lead to them hurting or killing each other.

Plus, Florida already has about 1.3 million alligators in all 67 counties.