Yes, there have been many sightings of alligators in the Ozarks, especially in Lake Ozarks. However, this is not a known alligator habitat. The gators that people saw may have been astray.
The American alligator is the only native alligator in the United States. Although the alligators live in several states, most are in Louisiana and Florida.
Are there crocodiles in the Ozarks?
No, there are no crocodiles in the Ozarks unless someone released a specimen in the lakes. There is only one crocodile species native to the United States, and that is the American crocodile.
The American crocodile is not endemic to the US, as it has a presence in Peru and Venezuela. However, this crocodile lives in only one part of the US, and that is in Florida.
The Ozarks is a group of mountains. While people call it Ozarks, it also comes by Ozark Mountains and Ozark Plateau.
The Ozarks does not extend inside Missouri only, as it also covers the corner of Kansas, and it expands in Arkansas to Oklahoma. It also extends to the southern half of Missouri.
As such, it covers a huge territory in the inland part of the United States. It is not impossible to find a crocodile here one day, but that will only happen if the crocs one day decide to leave the Florida Everglades in search of a new home.
Related Article: Are Alligators and Crocodiles Territorial?
Can alligators or crocodiles live in the Ozarks: why or why not?
Yes, alligators can survive in the Ozarks because there are several types of freshwater bodies here. For one, there is a lake in the Ozarks. There is also a swamp here.
One interesting thing about the Ozarks is the ancient wetlands. According to studies, the entire region used to be submerged in water. Eventually, tectonic and volcanic forces uplifted the land.
The cycle of submersion and uplift continued for thousands of years, giving birth to the hills and valleys that now make up the Ozark mountains.
Today, there are two interesting bodies of water here. These are the Tupelo Gum Pond and the Cupola Pond. These two ponds used to be sinkholes.
Alligators need a fresh body of water to thrive. And where there is water and vegetation, there is likely an abundance of life. From frogs to mammals, alligators will eat anything.
So, if alligators ever found their way into the Ozarks and decided to stay there, they can surely make the Ozarks a habitat.
The American alligator is a freshwater animal. It is semi-aquatic, and it is best suited to live in an area with land and freshwater, which the Ozarks has.
The alligator also likes slow-moving rivers. But best of all, it likes swamps, marshes, and lakes. The gator, however, cannot live long in saltwater as it does not have salt glands.
It snows in the Ozarks, depending on the state where it is in. Because of this, the gators may not like the area if it gets too cold.
How come there are no crocodilians in Ozarks?
The Ozarks is deep in the US mainland. As such, it is difficult for alligators and crocodiles to access the area.
While there are gators in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, these gators and crocs thrive in the coastal areas of these states. They may venture inland, but not that far.
Alligators are not travelers like crocodiles. In one study, scientists found that alligators do not stray far from their habitat.
In this study, the researchers tracked several gators. They found out that the gators have a high site fidelity. It means that the alligators do not move far from their home range.
There were two alligators in the study that showed sedentary status. They did not move. One alligator moved to an estuary but preferred to stay in the freshwater. Then, two gators travelled downstream to saline waters.
The researchers also found that the gators moved based on several conditions like temperature, salinity, etc. However, they are not like some crocodiles that would ride the waves of the sea.
It is possible for the American crocodile to travel, but then traveling is best seen in estuarine crocodiles. These crocs have the largest geographical coverage, which is more than 10,000 square kilometers.
Studies indicate that the crocodiles ride sea currents. They do this to conserve energy. Since crocs have salt glands, they can tolerate saltwater for a long time.
It is this possession of salt glands that make crocodiles travel and make a habitat in various places in the world. It is why there are crocodiles in the Americas, in Asia, Australia, and also in Africa.
Are there zoos that have alligators or crocodiles in the Ozarks?
There are only two zoos near the Ozarks in Springfield, MI. These are the Dickerson Park Zoo and the Wild Animal Safari.
Dickerson has no gators or crocs, but one can find gators in Wild Animal Safari. Notably, one must visit the zoo on Oak Grove Road in Georgia.
The Wild Animal Safari focuses on tours. The animals are not caged. Instead, they have a sanctuary where they can roam around freely.
People who visit these zoos can take the safari tour in their own vehicles or get a ride with other people.
There are several options for the safari drive in Missouri. Children would love to be here because of the opportunity to get close to the animals.
Visitors can cuddle the lemurs, and they can also feed the giraffes. One must know that close encounters with these animals require more money and that one has to book these encounters.
There are several reports of gator sightings in the Ozarks, but it is not a native habitat of gators. Most gators live in Louisiana and Florida. There are also gators in Mississippi, but gators are not native to Missouri. Alligators can thrive in the Ozarks because there are wetlands here. However, it is already too far inland, so gators are not likely to make a habitat here when they can easily do so in coastal areas.