Learn About Alligators in Arkansas!

Image from Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Image from Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Kirsten Bartlow with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission shares some information on alligators in Arkansas. The below copy is care of KARK 4 News.

Are alligators native to Arkansas?
Yes, alligators have been in Arkansas for thousands of years. Their numbers where heavily depleted by unregulated market hunting (purses, belts, shoes, etc.) and draining of wetlands from 1860 to 1960. They are now mainly found in the lower third of the state. They cannot handle the hard freezes in the northern portion of the state. 45 of our 75 counties have documented gators.

Are alligators dangerous?
No, if you leave them alone! It is illegal to feed alligators in Arkansas. They can lose their fear of humans. Alligators are not known to attack humans in Arkansas. However, do not let children or pets swim in waters with alligators.

Where can I see alligators in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Post National Memorial and Millwood State Park. Or, visit the AGFC nature center in Pine Bluff or Little Rock to see live alligators in captivity.

Fun Facts:

  • Mama gators build nests on the ground for their eggs. A gator’s sex is determined by the temperature in the nest.
  • Mama gators protect the nest. When she hears the young yelping, she opens the nest and gently carries them to water in her mouth. She sticks around to help protect them for up to two years.
  • Gators in Arkansas do not eat during the winter months-they’ll bask in the sun but they are not warm enough to digest food.


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Posted in Travel Arkansas, Watchable Wildlife
3 comments on “Learn About Alligators in Arkansas!
  1. Someone told me that the Game and Fish put about 200 Gators in Big Lake in Northern Mississippi County back in the 1980s. Is this true and if so how big would they be by now?? Thanks bob

    • Zoie Clift says:

      Hi Bob! Below is some information that I came across from the Game and Fish Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/ARGameandFish.
      You might also try contacting Game and Fish directly at either askAGFC@agfc.state.ar.us or at 501-223-6300 for further information. Take care! Zoie

      The American Alligator has been a resident of Arkansas for thousands of years, inhabiting swamps, sloughs, bayous, river backwaters, and oxbow lakes throughout the Coastal Plain and Mississippi Delta. With the arrival of European settlers the land was cleared and drained and the alligator was hunted without restriction. By the early 1960’s the loss of habitat and unregulated hunting had reduced the alligator population to the point where it was endangered throughout its range in the southeastern United States. State and federal protection of the animal for over 20 years and restocking efforts have allowed alligator populations to recover. As a part of this recovery the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission restocked 2800 Louisiana alligators, between 1972 and 1984, throughout the alligator’s presumed historic range in Arkansas. The alligator is still protected by state and federal laws, and it is illegal to feed, possess, harass, or kill an alligator. Arkansans need to know and understand that alligators are a part of our state’s natural heritage and they should be respected and enjoyed as much as any other fish and wildlife resource.

      Some facts about alligators:
      • Alligators are members of the Class Crocodylia and are not “true” reptiles. They are more closely related to birds and dinosaurs, than to snakes or lizards.
      • Crocodilians have existed for about 200 million years!
      • Alligators are a “kind” of Crocodilian, in the Family Alligatoridae, and are not “true” crocodiles. Alligators and their South American cousins, the Caimans, have broad, rounded snouts and live in freshwater habitats. True Crocodiles have narrower, pointed snouts and live in both fresh and salt-water habitats.
      • The average adult alligator ranges from 6-12 feet in length. Males grow bigger than females, with females rarely growing over 9 feet in length.
      • Young alligators are black in color and are boldly marked with yellow crossbars. This helps camouflage them from potential predators. The young will stay close together in dense aquatic vegetation for the first year and the female remains close by to protect them from predators.
      • Alligators survive cold winter temperatures by remaining submerged in deep water and coming up to breath only once every hour or so, or by retreating into dens dug in the banks of rivers or levees.
      • Alligators are naturally shy of humans and if not accustomed to human presence will retreat from their approach. However, alligators that have been fed will learn to approach humans looking for a handout, and this creates a serious problem for unsuspecting humans and/or their pets.
      • Alligators are sometimes attracted to fishermen’s surface action lures, mistaking them as potential food.
      • Alligators will not attempt to feed during the cool fall and winter months, so water fowl hunting dogs are safe.

      • People and alligators can safely exist together if people would follow some simple guidelines and use common sense.

      DO’S and DON’TS In Alligator Country
      • Don’t feed or attempt to feed an alligator!
      • Do tell others that it is illegal to feed an alligator and they are creating problems for other unsuspecting persons if they do.
      • Don’t throw fish scraps in the water or leave them on or near boat ramps, this is just the same as intentional feeding.
      • Do keep your distance to observe alligators.
      • Don’t swim or wade in areas where they are.
      • Don’t allow children or pets to go in or near water in known alligator habitat.

  2. Daniel Christy says:

    You can find alligators as far north as petit jean WMA or Hollabend WMA, both about 150 miles from the Missouri border.

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