American Alligator

American Alligator - head X512

One of the most frequently asked questions is "Do you have alligators on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge?"  Indeed, we do have alligators.  However, locals speculate that the Alligator River, for which the refuge was named, was named for it's shape.  It is likely the river was named prior to alligators making it this far north.  With the warming trend, the range for American Alligators has been expanding further north for many years.


American Alligator

The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is near the northern extent of the American alligator's natural range in North America. This once-endangered reptile occurs in refuge marshes, slow-moving streams, and manmade canals. They prefer areas where the water turbidity is low and the water quality is high, with the presence of an adequate food source. Milltail Creek Lake, Whipping Creek, and Swan Creek Lake usually provide prime alligator habitat. 

The American alligator is considered an apex predator.American Alligator -long X512 They are opportunists and their diet is determined largely by both the size and age of the alligator and the size and availability of prey. Alligators eat a wide variety of animals, including invertebrates, fish, bird, turtles, snakes, amphibians, and mammals. Hatchlings mostly feed on invertebrates such as insects, insect larvae, snails, spiders, and worms. As they grow, alligators gradually move on to larger prey. Once an alligator reaches adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to the water to drink is potential prey, due to the size and power of the alligator. However, most animals captured by alligators are considerably smaller than the alligator itself. Among native mammals, muskrats and raccoons are some of the most commonly eaten species.