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Are There Alligators in Virginia?

Are There Alligators in Virginia

There are no alligators in Virginia—at least not now. There used to be a time when gators lived here,especially in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Alligators in Virginia suffered from human hunting in the 1900s. The gators moved down to Florida, where they thrived after the enactment of the Endangered Species Act. Until today, the alligators have not come back.

Are there crocodiles in Virginia?

Alligator eating meat
Alligator eating meat

No, there are no crocodiles in Virginia. The only crocodile in the United States is the American Crocodile, and it lives on the coast of Florida.

The American crocodile has a wide presence from the north to the south of Florida. They also have populations in Cuba, Jamaica, the south of Mexico, and Venezuela. The American crocodile has marked its territory in the Caribbean. As a croc, it likes saltwater and brackish waters. 

Related Article: Are There Alligators in California?

Are there alligators in Suffolk?

No, there are no alligators in Suffolk, Virginia. Despite being the largest city in the state, there are no alligators here.

Surely, there are alligators in zoos, but they have not been seen in the wild for a long time, not after their populations were almost decimated in the 1900s.

Could alligators live in Virginia: why or why not?

American Alligator

Yes, alligators could live in Virginia. The state is home to several rivers and lakes, and alligators would have a good life in these bodies of freshwater.

Here are the nine major river systems in the state:

  • Potomac-Shenandoah
  • Rappahannock
  • York
  • James
  • Roanoke
  • Chowan
  • New
  • Tennessee
  • Big Shandy

And here are the largest lakes in Virginia:

  • Philpott Lake
  • Lake Drummond
  • Lake Chesdin
  • Claytor Lake
  • Leesville Lake
  • South Holston Lake
  • Lake Gaston
  • Lake Anna
  • Smith Mountain Lake
  • Kerr Lake
chinese alligator

All of these bodies of water are thriving with wildlife. As such, alligators will not have problems making these areas their home.

So, how come there are no alligators in Virginia? Well, there are alligators that find their way in Virginia. However, there seems to be some kind of mass hysteria in the state about alligators.

In short, residents of the state do not want alligators around. When someone sees an alligator, the gator gets reported to the authorities.

Then, the authorities euthanize the animal. It seems like the authorities have a slogan that says, “alligators do not belong here.”

Because of this, alligators will not thrive in the state. It is not unlikely for an alligator to find its way into the state. There is an abundant food supply in the lakes and rivers.

Authorities of the state do not always shoot alligators. Instead, they deport the alligator back to North Carolina.

Because of these actions, the alligators will never really be back. The only thing that can make alligators grow in population is if the authorities pass laws to protect them in the state.

Related Article: Are There Alligators in Missouri?

Are there alligators in zoos in Virginia?

Muja the Alligator

Yes, there are alligators in zoos in Virginia, but only one zoo keeps an American alligator. Pretty much, this is the only way people in the state would see a real alligator. Zoos in Virginia also keep crocodiles.

One of the biggest zoos in the state is Virginia Zoo. However, it does not have an alligator. What it has is the Siamese Crocodile—an endangered species. 

The Siamese crocodile is not native to the state or the country. It is native to Asia, and it lives in slow-moving rivers, swamps, and marshes.

It is a critically endangered animal, but the population is in the process of recovery. Many people hunted this crocodile for its leather.

The Metro Richmond Zoo, on the other hand, has over 2,000 species of animals. One of these is the American alligator. The American alligator in the zoo is small—it is just about as big as a large iguana.

So far, only the Metro Richmond Zoo has an alligator. The zoos in the state mostly have other types of reptiles like snakes.

There may be some residents in the state that have alligators as pets. But then, this is rare and could possibly be illegal.

Under Virginia law, no person may possess any animal that is exotic and also not native to the state. Furthermore, if the animal belongs to a class called predatory, no one may own it.

Related Article: Are There Alligators in the Mississippi River?

Here are some examples of these animals:

Alligator in captivity
Alligator in captivity
  • Crocodiles
  • Alligators
  • Bears
  • Wolves
  • Non-domesticated cats
  • Weasels
  • Badgers

The exception to this law is if the person who owns them is a licensed exhibitor. What it means is that the person is operating a zoo—with a license from the state, of course.

Despite this, there are people who certainly break the law. Once their exotic alligator pet grows too big, they release it in the rivers or lakes in their area.

Are there alligators in Kerr Lake or Roanoke River?

Alligator on a rock
Alligator on a rock

Kerr Lake is the largest lake in the state, and there are no alligators there. Today, it is a huge reservoir which serves as a flood control system.

Despite the absence of these gators, one can possibly see them on the same lake but already in North Carolina.

There are also no alligators in the biggest river in the state, the Roanoke River. The same goes for all rivers in the state.

There was one time when officials hunted down an alligator in the Big Moccasin Creek. It was near Gate City.

This alligator, however, was not wild. The presumption of the officials was that it was a pet that was set loose.

When the authorities found the gator, they shot it. The reasoning behind it was that it was huge, and it could be a danger to the public.

Summary

There are no alligators or crocodiles in Virginia. There used to be, but they have been hunted down. Today, most of the alligators in the US are in Florida, where they live in huge numbers.

Alligators, despite growing in number, have not found their way back to Virginia yet. Right now, the farthest north that one can find a gator is North Carolina, just on the borders of Virginia.

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