Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

Are There Alligators in Illinois?

Are There Alligators in Illinois

No, there are no alligators in Illinois. There were some occasions when people spotted an alligator, but these gators were not native to the state. Apparently, they were pets that the owners released.

Alligators do not live in the state, and because of that, no expertscan deal with these animals. There was one situation in 2019 when Chicago officials had to fly in an expert from Florida to catch an alligator in Humboldt Park.

Are there crocodiles in Illinois?

Crocodile attack
Crocodile attack

No, like the alligator, there are no crocodiles in Illinois. In the United States, crocodiles live in Florida only. The crocs co-exist with the gators in the Florida Everglades.

The species of crocodile in the United States is the American Crocodile. It is one of the largest crocodile species in the world, and it is widely distributed in the Caribbean and Florida.

In addition, there are crocs in the US but only in zoos. There are some people who keep crocs and gators as pets, and some of these pet owners keep these reptiles illegally.

Related Article: Are There Alligators in Africa?

Are there alligators in Chicago?

No, there are no alligators in Chicago. However, people once saw an alligator in the lagoon of Humboldt Park, which people named Chance the Snapper.

The alligator, Chance, was an elusive one. It took officials about a week to capture it. The officials called an expert gator trapper in Florida, Frank “Alligator Robb. Frank succeeded in capturing the five-foot gator.

Though the officials humanely caught and transferred Chance, there was a fan base that developed for the gator. People sold t-shirts and even made cocktails after his name.

Officials say the gator did not travel there from Florida or other parts of the US. Instead, the official word was that it was someone’s pet, and the owner got scared when Chance got too big.

Related Article: Are There Alligators in Miami?

Could alligators live in Illinois: why or why not?

chinese alligator

Yes, alligators can live in Chicago. Chance was in the lagoon for weeks, and it was healthy when city officials finally caught it.

There are rivers and lakes in Illinois that are suitable for an alligator to survive. There are also swamps and wetlands in the state.

Most of the wetlands occur in the northern part of the state, in glacial kettles. There are also floodplain forests here where one can find ponds.

As a freshwater animal, the gator will not have a hard time living in the state. There are also true swamps that have a lot of bald cypress trees.

As far as the climate is concerned, Illinois has an average of between 35 and 48 inches of precipitation. Snowfall, however, exceeds 38 inches in Chicago. The southern part of Illinois gets about 14 inches of snow.

Can alligators survive in this condition? Yes, they can. There are many photos and videos of alligators playing in the snow in Colorado. In this state, the average precipitation is 16 inches, and the average snowfall is 60.2 inches.

If gators can survive in Colorado, they can survive the weather in Illinois. Alligators have an uncanny way of surviving in the cold.

They stick their nostrils out of the water’s surface, which they do until the surface is frozen. While in that position, their bodies stay underwater (the water is in a liquid state).

The gators may appear dead to some, but they are actually alive. They submerge themselves underwater when it is freezing because the temperature underwater is warmer. They put their noses above the surface to breathe.

Related Article: Are There Alligators in New Orleans?

Are there alligators in zoos in Illinois?

Chinese Alligator
Chinese Alligator

Interestingly, Illinois zoos have no alligators except atBrookfield Zoo, Scovill Zoo, and Peoria Zoo. The gator in Brookfield is an albino, and the gator in Peoria is a Chinese alligator. In Scovill, they keep American alligators, crocodiles, gavials, and caimans.

Albino alligators are rare. Based on experts’ estimates, there are only 100 of them in the world. The zookeepers named the albino alligator Snowflake.

Snowflake is seven feet long and is 19 years old. Snowflake now lives in an enclosed swamp habitat. However, the albino gator does not permanently stay in Brookfield. 

Snowflake is paired with another albino alligator named Blizzard. They mainly stay in Central Florida and then move to other zoos upon request for a special exhibit.

Both these gators came from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which is located in Florida. It is one of the oldest animal parks in the state, and it has 24 species of crocodilians.

On the other hand, the alligator in Peoria is a Chinese Alligator, which is not native to the United States. The Chinese alligator is endemic to China, and it is critically endangered.

The Chinese alligator is smaller in size than its American counterpart. By the way, there are only two extant or living species of alligators—the American and the Chinese.

Are there alligators in the Mississippi River or Carlyle Lake?

Alligator in a river
Alligator in a river

No, there are no alligators in rivers and lakes in Illinois. The distance between Florida, where many gators live, and Illinois, is 1,183 miles.

While alligators travel, they maintain a high level of fidelity in their homes. A study showed that some gators are sedentary and do not even bother leaving their habitat.

Some gators move from their freshwater habitat to an estuary. The study concluded that gators move because of water salinity and temperature.

The distance is primarily the reason why gators do not live in Illinois. It is too far from their native habitat in the US, which is Florida.


There are no alligators or crocodiles in Illinois. The state is not a native home of crocodilians in the US. If anything, the gators or crocs that people see were set loose by their owners. There are alligators and crocodiles in zoos in Illinois, and one can visit them at any time the zoos are open. As far as survival is concerned, the state is a viable place for alligators to thrive because there are many bodies of freshwater in the state.

Skip to content