14 Best Places To See Wild Alligators In Louisiana – Louisiana Tri

View Table of ContentsFlorida Alligator FactsAlligator DistributionAlligator SizesAlligator Life CycleAlligator Diet10 Florida Alligators State Records1| Lake Washington, 20102| Lake Talquin, 20133| Lake Monroe, 19974| Apalachicola River, 19895| Polk County, 20016| Orange Lake, 19897| Lake Dora, 19838| Orange Lake, 19849| Crescent Lake, 200810| Manatee County, 2005Unofficial Captures of Largest Alligator in Florida1| Apalachicola River, 20202| Okeechobee, 20163| Apalachicola River, 2021Why Are Some Possible Record Alligators Not Certified?Could There Be Bigger Alligators Out There?Legends of Giant Alligators in FloridaAlligator HuntingHuman Interactions with Alligators in FloridaThreats to Alligator in FloridaYou may also like:

Legends of massive alligators have made people keep their eyes open in the swamps and rivers of Florida for centuries.

These apex predators have little competition in their natural habitats outside of their own kind and humans.

We’ve all seen some pictures showing a monster gator or heard someone tell us about how impossibly huge what they saw was.

We’ll be detailing the certified records for the biggest alligators in Florida, what we know about them, and how humans impact alligators.

Florida Alligator Facts

The American Alligator is only found in the Southeastern United States, in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, And North and South Carolina.

For the most part, you’ll find them in freshwater lakes, slow-moving rivers, swamplands, and brackish wetlands.

At one time, the American Alligator was considered an endangered species, but tight regulations have allowed the species to rebound into populations in the millions, leading to them no longer being considered threatened with extinction.

Males grow larger than females, with females rarely growing to be over ten feet (3 meters) in length.

Despite myths that they grow during their entire lifetimes, alligators actually stop growing once they reach sexual maturity between ten and fifteen years old, their growth rate slows dramatically.

Large specimens of male gators around fifteen feet (4.6 meters) can continue to grow heavier even after they stop gaining length.

Documented cases of alligators weighing over 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) are rare but entirely possible.

Alligators reach sexual maturity around the time they reach seven feet (2.1 meters) in length.

The nests are also at risk of being raided by raccoons, and hogs, otters, bears, and some invasive lizards will also raid and eat the eggs.

Wading birds, raccoons, otters, and fish are also threats to growing alligators.

As adults, their largest threats are larger alligators who will fight with or feed on them, and humans who hunt them.

In the wild, alligators typically can live between 30 and 50 years of age but can live longer in captivity with some reaching seventy years of age.

Juvenile gators eat primarily small fish, insects, amphibians, and other invertebrates like crayfish.

Large enough alligators won’t be shy about taking prey as large as deer and wild hogs if the chance arises.

They’re also one of the few species that regularly eat invasive snakes like Burmese pythons.

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10 Florida Alligators State Records

Trying to record records for the largest alligators is complicated.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission only recognizes records that have been measured and confirmed by state biologists.

You’ll find plenty of stories about excessively massive alligators if you even scratch the surface of what the biggest ones ever found were.

The problem is that in the vast majority of these cases, the gator was only seen and no evidence was recorded.

For this list, we’ll only be using the alligators confirmed by the FWC and documented in this state record list.

Largest Alligator In Florida Infographic by Outforia

Caught in Lake Washington on November 1, 2010, the current record holder for longest alligator is a 14’ 3 ½” specimen.

The gator was caught as part of the statewide harvest program and had a head that measured nearly two feet (0.6 meters) in length.

It weighed 654 pounds (297 kilograms) when it was measured.

After being harpooned, the alligator tugged the boat and three hunters around the lake for forty-five minutes, and only then tired enough for them to tow it to shore.

The second-largest alligator certified by the FWC measured in at 14-feet (4 meters) 1-inch (203 centimeters).

It was caught September 12, 2013, in Lake Talquin in the statewide alligator harvest program.

No official weight was recorded for the gator, but it had a head length of 23 ½ inches (0.6 meters).

Just short of the second-largest alligator, an 800-pound (363 kilograms) alligator was caught in Lake Monroe on September 30, 1997.

It was removed as part of the statewide nuisance alligator program that allows hunters to trap and remove alligators that pose a threat to people.

The Apalachicola River is home to some monstrous gators, so it’s no surprise that one made the top ten list.

The 14-foot (4.3 meters) and 1/16-inch (0.16 centimeters) gator was caught June 5, 1989, and weighed in at 714 pounds (324 kilograms).

It was also caught and removed as part of the nuisance gator harvesting program.

On September 19, 2001, a nearly 14-foot (4.3 meters) alligator was captured on private land in Polk County.

The large male weighed in at 880 pounds (399 kilograms) and had a head length of 22 ⅜ inches (0.57 centimeters).

The record holder for heaviest alligator was a 13′-foot (4 meters) 10 ½-inch (26.7 centimeters) gator caught in Orange Lake.

The beast was caught on April 17, 1989, and weighed a whopping 1,043 pounds (473 kilograms).

The alligator was caught and removed as part of the statewide nuisance alligator harvest program.

On March 31, 1983, hunters caught a 13-foot (3.96 meters) 9 1/4 -inch (23.5 centimeters) alligator in Lake Dora.

It weighed in at 870 pounds (259 kilograms) and was caught as part of the statewide nuisance alligator harvest program.

Another entry from Orange Lake, this 13-foot (3.96 meters) 8-inch (20 centimeters) gator was caught on September 25, 1984.

The alligator weighed in at an even 700 pounds (318 kilograms) and was caught as part of the statewide alligator harvest program.

Caught in Crescent Lake on September 21, 2008, the ninth longest alligator was measured to be 13-feet (4 meters) 6 1/8 -inches (15.5 centimeters).

This gator weighed in at 839 pounds (380.5 kilograms) and was caught as part of the statewide alligator harvest program.

The tenth-largest current record holder was a 13-foot (4 meters) 5 ⅛ inch (13 centimeters) alligator caught in Manatee County.

The gator was caught on January 1, 2005, as part of the statewide nuisance alligator harvest program and weighed in at 800 pounds (363 kilograms).

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Unofficial Captures of Largest Alligator in Florida

For a variety of reasons that we’ll explain later, there are plenty of alligators that are caught but not verified by the state.

A man named Corey Capps spotted a massive alligator along the river behind his house just last year.

According to the hunter, the animal had stalked him on fishing trips three times in the two months before he and a friend went out to hunt the animal.

The two harpooned the gator and spent three hours trying to move the massive animal from the river to the shore.

The gator was taken to a recycling center in the town and was found to weigh 1,008 pounds (457 kilograms).

Reportedly the animal was over 13 feet (33 meters) in length, but the capture wasn’t verified by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

A farm owner, his son, and three hunters got the surprise of their life in 2016 when they came across a massive alligator while hunting for hogs on their property.

Reportedly, the massive alligator, pictured here, was around fifteen feet (4.5 meters) in length and weighed 780 pounds (354 kilograms).

The alligator was not verified by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Towards the end of 2021, Ricky Banks and his son River were able to haul in a 13-foot (4 meters), 2-inch (5 centimeters) gator in the Apalachicola River.

This one, though, had a sizable section of its tail bitten off earlier in its lifetime, so the true length of the alligator could have set a new record.

The hunters were unable to verify the gator’s weight either, as the scale they used broke down at 838 pounds (380 kilograms).

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to wait on a biologist to come out and verify the length.

According to the hunter, the animal was so big they couldn’t get it into a walk-in cooler to keep it from spoiling.

Why Are Some Possible Record Alligators Not Certified?

There are plenty of reasons why alligators aren’t certified by the FWC, and despite what some people think that doesn’t mean the numbers were exaggerated or it was a hoax.

In fact, state regulations for processing plants require butchering to begin within four hours of an alligator’s death.

For hunters who plan to consume the animal, there simply isn’t enough time to wait on a state biologist.

Not every hunter can afford to do that, and combined with the short time frame for butchering the animal, it leads to some people ignoring state verification.

Other times, there simply isn’t anyone available to verify the alligator’s size.

Many places simply don’t have the equipment to get measurements, such as having a scale that can handle that much weight.

Just like with record hunts of other species, sometimes trying to fully verify the capture is just too much of a hassle for people.

Especially when they weren’t record-hunting in the first place.

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There could always be bigger gators out there.

We know from keeping captive alligators that with enough food and space they can reach sizes of around fifteen feet (4.5 meters).

In the wild, the chances are really slim, however, a literal freak of nature gator could feasibly get to sizes over fifteen feet (4.5 meters).

Even given that concession, the chance of a twenty-foot or larger alligator is essentially zero.

With their slowed growth rate, high mortality rate, and a large amount of study put into how big they can get, finding a true “monster” alligator is pretty much impossible.

To put it simply, alligators just don’t grow that big.

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Legends of Giant Alligators in Florida

The records for alligator sizes in Florida only go back to the 1980s, mostly because that’s when harvesting programs were implemented by the FWC.

Legends and stories of massive alligators go back for centuries, from Native American legends to sightings by field scientists.

Ned McIlhenny, a conservationist, came across what could be the largest alligator ever seen.

In 1890, he came across a massive dying alligator and decided to put it out of its misery.

Using his thirty-inch gun barrel, he came to the conclusion that the gator measured nineteen feet and two inches (5.8 meters and 5 centimeters).

As it was too large to bring aboard the boat and they were several miles from land, they decided to skin the beast.

Examinations of the skin put the alligator at 17-feet (5.18 meters) 10-inches (25.4 centimeters) in length.

In fact, the animal was probably bigger, since alligator skin shrinks after being removed from the animal.

Some classic videos of massive alligators have come out in recent years.

One in Polk County, Florida, seems to show a gator over fourteen feet (4.3 meters) and is deemed legitimate by biologists.

Another video of a huge alligator walking across a Florida golf course is evidence of a 15-foot (0.38 meters), 1,000-pound (453 kilograms) animal frequenting the area.

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The swamps of Florida and Lousianna are famous for it, even spawning shows like Swamp People on the History Channel.

In Florida, the FWC gives out around 7,000 tags each year in a lottery for the public.

This is part of the statewide alligator harvest program, allowing hunters to take up to two adult gators each year.

The state also has a nuisance alligator harvest program.

Alligators that have moved into urban environments pose a threat to people and pets, and the state sanctions certified hunters to trap and remove alligators from urban areas.

Human Interactions with Alligators in Florida

People and alligators have depended on the same lands and resources as long as they’ve lived in the same areas.

In Florida, only seven unprovoked alligator attacks occur per year on average.

Alligators walking across a golf course, popping up in neighborhoods, and even being found in swimming pools aren’t unheard of.

A funny side note, in public schools in Florida, they actually do teach you how to run from gators.

In most cases when they aren’t being threatened, alligators want nothing to do with people.

They simply want to be left alone and largely ignore people when they aren’t too close.

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Threats to Alligator in Florida

The biggest threat to alligators is humans.

At one point, we had hunted the American Alligator to near extinction.

People hunt alligators for both their meat and skin, as the skin is desirable for leather clothing and accessories.

This gives the wild populations of alligators a lot of relief from hunters, with set regulations for the number of hunting tags given out each year based on population evaluations and more conscientious hunters taking care with which gators they harvest.

As people expand, swamps are drained and rivers are dammed.

Alligators are hardy and can adapt to human encroachment, but when they show up in canals behind homes or in urban areas, they’re deemed a threat and removed.

In many cases, gators are simply relocated.

If the alligator is small enough to be captured and moved safely, they’re then released elsewhere.

Big male alligators are more often killed when they’re a threat because capture and relocation are near impossible.

Populations of gators can become fragmented by human expansion as well.

The problem is that in many cases, they’re moving through urban areas too close to people.

On paper that sounds like a good thing for them, but a warming climate means higher body temperatures for them, requiring more food.

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Alligators in Florida are wild reptiles that are apex predators!

Only found in the Southeast United States, their name comes from Spanish settlers when the creatures were discovered in Florida.

Found in ponds, wetlands, marshes, swamps, lakes, and rivers, gators increase plant diversity and provide habitat for other animals during droughts.

While as of 1973, alligators were considered an endangered species, conservation efforts have reversed this!

Alligators are now plentiful in Florida, the state’s official reptile!

Does Florida Have Crocodiles or Alligators?

Actually, Florida has both!

Florida’s warm climate makes it a perfect habitat for both crocodiles and alligators.

South Florida is actually the only place in the world where both crocodiles and alligators can coexist!

While alligators are found in all of Florida’s 67 counties, crocodiles are shy and can only be found on the Florida coast.

While both creatures are dangerous, alligators prefer freshwater habitats while crocodiles prefer saltwater habitats.

How Many Alligators Are There In Florida?

The average count of alligators in Florida is staggering: 1.25 million!

Gators are so populous now, that is one is big enough, you can report it to animal control.

If a gator is spotted in your home and is over four feet, you can report it as a “nuisance alligator” and animal control will come to deal with it.

Some alligators, despite fighting for their lives, can be known to live up to 70 years.

The oldest recorded alligator life has exceeded 100 years!

Did you know that the alligator population has grown so much, that from 2006 -2015, Disney World had to remove over 200 of them?

Luckily alligators will leave humans alone and won’t attack if they aren’t provoked.

What Kinds of Alligators Live in Florida?

Florida is home to two different types of alligators.

The American and Chinese alligators both make Florida their home, but the two could not be more different.

While alligators are the largest reptiles in North America, the American variety is much larger than the Chinese alligator.

While both varieties are carnivores, the Chinese alligator has a more blunt set of teeth, better equipped to eat shellfish.

This being said, you should be more cautious when dealing with American alligators.

American alligators will attack and eat anything if they are hungry enough.

They have been known to attack turtles, humans, and family pets like cats and dogs.

Chinese alligators have been known not to attack humans.

How Large Are Alligators In Florida?

On average, an American alligator, the most common type of alligator in Florida, can grow up to 800 pounds and as long as 13 feet.

How large are alligators?

Females in general rarely exceed 10 feet, but males can grow much larger.

In the wild, alligators can live 35-50 years.

14 Best Places To See Wild Alligators In Florida

Everglades National Park

The Everglades National Park is the third-largest national park in the United States!

With over 200,000 wild alligators calling this park their home, this is one of the best places to see alligators in Florida!

This is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators can coexist.

Alligators are one of the most important parts of the Everglades ecosystem.

The nesting activity of females is the biggest creator of peat in the area!

The best place to see alligators in the Everglades is the park’s entrance in Shark Valley.

Your closest views of the gators will be on Anhinga Trail at Royal palm, which is a ten minute drive from the Ernest Coe Visitor Center!

While alligators are one of the most dangerous predators in the park, we recommend bringing bug repellant.

Hillsborough River State Park

In the northeast corner of Hillsborough near Zephyrhills, you’ll find the Hillsborough River State Park!

2900 acres with over 7 miles of trails, the park is one of the oldest of Florida’s parks.

Popular for its proximity to Tampa, spotting a gator is easy here!

Among the many ecosystems found on the Wetlands Trail are habitats perfect for alligators.

Keep your eyes peeled on the Rapids Trail, there are almost always gators lounging on a log or floating in the water.

Walk along the stationary bridge and gators will be sunbathing on a bank across the river.

For a safe swim free of alligators, take a dip in the State Park Pool!

The unused surrounding land would become the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Start with the Visitor Center, where you’ll find the best places to spot a gator on your trip.

Throughout the trails you’ll see what life was like before Cocoa Beach became civilized!

On the 7 mile auto tour, you will most assuredly see a gator from the safety of your own car!

Alligators can be seen in winter on warm and sunny days, but they are most visible basking in the sun during the winter and fall months.

Be cautious, alligators can be sunning themselves nearby these trails.

Make a stop at the Manatee Observation Center to see wild manatees before you head home!

Just north of Orlando, Ocala National Forest is 600 square miles, known for its sand pine scrub forest.

In addition to seeing alligators, this park is full of activities perfect for the whole family!

The best place to see alligators at the Ocala National Forest is on the riverbanks, where they will be sunbathing on the shore!

Alligators are also visible on the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway, a driving path which cuts through the heart of the forest.

For a closer look, rent a canoe and hit the water on the Salt Springs Run. Highly considered one of the best paddle trails in the country, you can spend 2-4 hours in a canoe looking at gators on the shore.

Myakka River State Park

Located just off of I-75, Myakka River State Park is a perfect destination to see alligators in Florida.

In Sarasota County, a trip to see alligators in this 37,000 acre park is one of the most fun things to do in Sarasota!

Alligator sightings are possible year-round in all bodies of water in the park, but park rangers say your best shot for seeing these creatures is in early spring.

Alligators like warm, but not hot weather!

In the hottest months of the Florida year, alligators will tend to spend more time in the water.

They like to lie on the bottom of rivers and lakes where it is cooler.

Mating season is actually in late March, one of the easiest times to see alligators in Florida.

Within Myakka is the “Deep Hole,” a popular site where alligators congregate like moths to a lamp!

Scientists and researchers have not been able to figure out why, but at least 120 gators have been spotted in this area in one sighting!

If you would like a safer, guided tour, follow signs for the Myakka Outpost once you enter the park to find an airboat guided tour.

If you choose to just walk along the park’s nature trails, posted signs will alert to you a possible presence of gators!

Lake Kissimmee State Park

Lake Kissimmee is just south of Orlando is the third largest lake and the third largest park in the state of Florida!

Of all the attractions in Orlando, is Lake Kissimmee State Park, perfect for viewing all kinds of wildlife, not just alligators.

Just off of SR 60, you can see bald eagles, ospreys, bobcats, as well as alligators in this lush park.

You will want to look for the alligators in the canals and lakes, first though.

Lake Kissimmee is known for its “cow camps” where primitive Florida cowboys used to wrangle cows in addition to alligators.

Today still, over six miles of trails are available to equestrians those who don’t want to get their toes wet.

Lake Jessup, in Central Florida, is one of the biggest home of Florida gators, with an average of 12,925 per year.

It is estimated that there are 421 gators per mile of shoreline in Lake Jessup!

Lake Jessup is the ideal environment for gators, as the grounds are loaded with mudfish, shad, and turtles, which are all perfect for a gator dinner.

This is the second most populated place to find wild alligators in Florida, second only to Lake Okeechobee!

While the state record for length of wild alligators in Florida is only 14.3 feet, hunters in Lake Jessup have reported an alligator of 18 feet.

Over 16,000 acres, Lake Jessup is a popular tourist attraction with brewing companies and sunflower parks.

If you’re looking to find the biggest gators in Florida though, you might want to start here!

The St. John’s River is the longest river in the state of Florida, and its freshwaters are the perfect places for alligators to call home!

Running along the east coast, the river has a slow flow rate.

It’s like a real life lazy river!

A popular site for hikers, boaters, and birders alike, the St. John’s River is also a very common site to see alligators in Florida!

An estimated 771 alligators live in just a thirteen mile radius of the river.

The backwater river is flanked by marshes instead of banks, where it is easy to spot a gator basking in the sun.

The easiest place to see many gators at once is the Black Creek tributary in Clay County.

Enjoy seeing the gators from the safety of the hiking trails or on an airboat tour, but take caution.

In recent years, these gators have been becoming more active.

Canaveral National Seashore is a series of campgrounds on a barrier island between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville in Volusia and Brevard counties.

This seashore is considered a nature sanctuary as it is unspoiled by hotels, restaurants, or other man-made infrastructure.

A camping trip here is a perfect way to reconnect with nature and see some alligators among the other creatures!

Even if you don’t want to set up your own campsite, there are many ways to make a visit to Canaveral National Seashore a perfect day trip, and see some alligators.

Take a drive down the Bio Lab Road to see some gators resting on the shore.

Walk the Scrub Ridge Trail, which borders wetlands and ponds, where gators are always peeking out!

Or take the road to Playlinda Beach, where guests say they have seen the most gators!

The Black Bear Wilderness Area is 1,650 acres of marshes and wetland plains in Sanford, Florida, just north of Orlando.

With trails and boardwalks winding throughout, this is some of the best wildlife watching in the state of Florida.

The area was named because guests could easily see black bears scratching their backs on a tree or playing with each other!

Besides being a sanctuary for black bears, you will find a variety of wildlife like roseate spoonbills, white-tailed deer, and of course, alligators!

The best way to see these alligators is to take a hike on the 7.1 mile Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail.

You’ll be taken through marshes and riverbanks where you will undoubtedly catch a glimpse of alligators.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

At Wekiwa Springs State Park, you will find over 7,000 acres of springs, nature trails, and campgrounds.

Come to swim in the springs, but stay for the wildlife, which includes of course, alligators!

The main attraction is the natural spring, which is perfect for swimming, kayaking, and canoeing.

Surrounding the spring are acres of Florida nature, untouched and undeveloped.

It is here in the waters surrounding the springs that you will see alligators in addition to deer, foxes, and rabbits!

After you’ve taken a dip in the springs, dry off by taking a walk along the network of trails.

If you walk the Volksmark trail, you will skirt Sand Lake where there are always alligators resting on the shore.

In Naples east of Bonita Springs, the National Audubon Society tends to the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary.

In the heart of Everglades flora and fauna, the Sanctuary protects the wetlands and the creatures that call these lands home.

The swampy grounds are home to otters, white-tailed deer, and rabbits as well as over 150 alligators.

Enjoy the pristine beauty of the forest on the 2.25 mile boardwalk as it takes guests through the branches of the cypress trees.

Through marshes and wild swamps you can find alligators peeking through the water.

Make sure to bring a camera because the sanctuary provides a picture-perfect background around every turn.

It’s actually a beautiful wildlife sanctuary spanning over 1,267 acres.

With wildlife like wild pigs and heron, this is a perfect place to see alligators in Florida in Lakeland!

Formerly a cattle ranch, the Circle B Bar Reserve hosts an array of wildlife in different ecosystems.

Guests can almost always see alligators in Lake Hancock at the center of the reserve basking in the sun or floating in the water!

Take a walk on the Mark Rabbit Run Trail to see more alligators and maybe some families of otters playing in the water.

Wakulla Springs State Park

Located just south of Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs State Park is a 6,000 acre sanctuary which is also home to the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs!

The Springs flow into the Wakulla River on whose banks are home to many alligators!

One of the best places to view wildlife in Florida, guests have the option of taking one of three nature trails.

Get lost in the pinewood forests and bald cypress wetlands where you can see manatees, wild turkey, and of course, alligators!

On any given day, you can see up to 14-21 alligators on a typical boat tour on the river.

The gators actually are the backbone of the natural springs ecosystem!

After you’ve gotten your fill of the alligators, you can cool off by swimming in the always cool waters of the spring system!

We enjoy seeing photos and comments about your experiences in Florida!

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