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Don't Mess with Alligators in Texas!

Updated on September 20, 2017
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Alligator | Source

Alligators Spotted in Houston Area

On the nightly news it was recently reported that an alligator located in Cinco Ranch in Katy, Texas which is about 5 miles from where we live in Houston was just captured and will be relocated to a wildlife ranch to live out its days.

Kids reportedly had been throwing rocks at it in a pond. Killing an alligator in Texas is a felony and bothering them could land one a $500 fine. Supposedly some people had been feeding it which is certainly discouraged!

Many of the new homes are built around retention ponds in our area of Houston, Texas and the surrounding lands. It is so flat here and those retention ponds are necessary to be a safeguard against heavy rains to keep the homes and businesses from flooding.

Alligators are deemed necessary to keep the balance of nature in check as they eat snakes and other small critters which could otherwise get out of hand.

When my aunt and uncle lived in Florida they had to be concerned with watching their dog if left out in the yard because of resident alligators in nearby ponds. Supposedly when they reached a certain size when they would have become more aggressive they would be relocated. Still it was of concern and they always kept an eye on their pet.

American Alligator
American Alligator | Source

When my mother and I visited several state parks in Florida there were signs up warning of possible alligators.

Obviously alligators have a right to live but people should take reasonable precautions so that the balance of nature can be kept intact.

There is an interesting PBS documentary video related to not only alligators but also crocodiles below.

American Alligators

Do you have to be concerned with alligators where you live?

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Waterfront Living in Houston

In Houston we have many bayous running through our city and also many retention ponds continually being built to hold excess rain and runoff. These dredged out ponds come in all sizes from small to large.

In many of the new subdivisions the waterfront homes are more expensive than those further back in the subdivision. That makes sense! Waterfront property everywhere whether it is ocean, river or lake is generally always more expensive worldwide.

The views can be quite pretty and often they have fountains in the center so as to keep the water moving and keep it from becoming stagnant.

Ducks and other water birds are often spotted.

Whenever an alligator somehow wanders into one of these small lake-like ponds, people need to stay alert not only for themselves but for small children and pets.

The photo shown below was taken just last weekend in a local park where lakes had been created in the prairie in the northwestern part of Harris County. We did not see any alligators but that is no assurance that they do not exist there. A large alligator can hide in as little as one foot of water and not be seen if the water is murky!

Sign warning of possible alligators in the area.
Sign warning of possible alligators in the area. | Source

Texas Alligators

The official name of the American alligator is Alligator Mississippiensis.

Most of the American alligators in Texas reach from five to six feet in length on average from what I have read. However elsewhere they can get much larger than that. Males grow larger than females and can attain ten feet in length or even larger. Some surprisingly large specimens have been found in places.

If they ever get into areas where they could be a danger to people they are often captured and removed to a more natural area where they can live out their lives just as the ones in Florida were where my aunt and uncle used to live for part of the year.

See how the alligator was removed in this video:

Only experts who know how to deal with capturing alligators should be called upon to help. In Texas the people to call would be the Texas Parks and Wildlife or one's local game warden.

This demonstrates the danger of alligators if not taking prudent precautions.

Alligator Terrain in Texas

If you can imagine drawing an imaginary line in the State of Texas on a diagonal slanting from left at the bottom to the right at the top it would look like this for the most part.

Starting in the Rio Grande Valley and progressing up to Laredo and then to San Antonio and Austin it would go through Waco and Dallas ending at the Louisiana border. There are a few other areas but primarily alligators are found in these areas with higher concentrations of them near the Texas coastline.

American Alligator
American Alligator | Source

Alligator Facts and Information

  • Did you know that alligators are hatched from eggs just as birds are hatched from eggs? Both birds and alligators when ready to break open that protective shell do so with what is referred to as an "egg tooth." In the case of birds, the parent birds spend time sitting on the eggs to keep them warm. In the case of alligators, the eggs are buried in a mound and the dirt and vegetation compressed over the eggs are warmed by the earth and sun until time for hatching.
  • A "pod" is the name for a group of hatched alligators. A pod is also defined as a seed vessel like that of a bean or pea. Those who watch science fiction movies would be familiar with self contained units called pods which can also be detached from a spaceship and operate independently. So there are several meanings for the word pod.
  • According to the San Diego Zoo an alligator in the water can swim up to a speed of around 20 miles per hour. On land that speed drops to 11 miles per hour or so. Unless prey is very near waters edge, most of the prey for alligators is caught in the water.
  • As an alligator matures and grows larger the preferred diet of things consumed grows larger right along with it. In the beginning a baby alligator will eat insects, minnows and the like. Larger alligators move on to larger objects such as birds, turtles, snakes, fish, etc. Deer and other larger animals that may be drinking water can become ensnared and eaten.
  • Going back to the 1960s alligators were on the endangered species list and were thought to become extinct. With protective measures in place they have made a remarkable resurgence and are no longer endangered. In fact here is now an open season in Texas where alligators may be hunted in order to help keep them in balance with nature. A valid hunting license must be secured and the limit per person is one per season.
  • When in water often what one will see are the eyes and nostrils of the alligator above water with the rest of the body below the surface. They can hold their breath under water for quite some time.

Large American Alligator
Large American Alligator | Source

Always heed signs warning of alligators!

Up until July of 2015 no humans in Texas had ever been killed by alligators. That changed when a 28 year old man jumped in the water despite a "No Swimming Alligators" sign. He was immediately attacked and lost his life.

  • Alligators are known to be territorial.

The alligator was eventually caught and killed. It was sad for the young man and his family and it is equally sad for the alligator who was just acting as alligators do when hungry or threatened.

American alligator in water
American alligator in water | Source

Did you know all of this information about alligators?

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© 2016 Peggy Woods


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 18 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      You are correct in that I did not realize that alligators would be commonly found in your area. East Texas I would have known. Too bad swimming in Lewisville Lake is no longer safe.

      As to rain down here...we are certainly getting more than our share. So far we have been OK but numerous homes not far from where we live have been flooded. My mother's former home would have flooded this last time. A friend of ours one block over from where my mother used to live had over 3 feet of water in her home. So sad! Naturally she lost her car also. Many people in dire straits down here.

      Thanks for sharing this article.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 18 months ago from North Texas

      Believe it or not, alligators have been spotted way up here where I am. In fact there was a 9-foot alligator in Lewisville Lake just 5 miles or so from here. Just Google "Alligators in Lewisville Lake, TX" and you will get several articles on this subject. Lewisville lake is named after Lewisville, TX, a medium sized city north of Dallas/Fort Worth. It's a pretty good sized lake (reservoir) and easily spotted on the map. Swimming in that lake really isn't safe anymore.

      So far I haven't heard of any alligators swimming in retention ponds which are plentiful because when it rains in Texas it tends to flood. The ground will get baked in the hot sun for weeks and then it will rain a gully-washer and the ground is so hard the rain doesn't soak in and next thing you have a temporary river that can be quite dangerous sometimes.

      I know you know all this, but you may not have known we have alligators so far north and their population seems to be growing.

      Very interesting hub and that was quite a video on those men who came to remove the alligator from the swimming pool. Couldn't believe that one man who actually jumped in the water and caught the alligator was holding his breath all that time and didn't have an air tank.

      Well done as always. Will share this with followers and have pinned it to my 'Wild Animals' board. Hope you are staying safe from all the flooding down there.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ann,

      As mentioned...except for that man that jumped into an area where alligators were known to be...he is the only one killed by an alligator in Texas. Most of the time if routine precautions are taken, they do not pose that much of a danger and they do serve their purpose in nature. I will admit, I would be very cautious if actually seeing one out in the wild. I have only seen them in zoos although I know that they are in our area. My husband have seen them on golf courses in Florida but never here in Houston.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 20 months ago from SW England

      I have a fear of crocodiles and alligators and would be very nervous living near any possibility of either! Fortunately, we have no wild ones in Britain, not that I know of anyway! I've never seen one 'in the flesh' so I'm not sure why I have such a fear of them - just the thought that they are so predatory and so fast I suppose. Nothing else bothers me, such as spiders or snakes.

      This is a fascinating account of the facts and figures regarding these amazing creatures. They must be preserved to fulfil their position in the food chain and their rôle in nature; it sounds as though the balance has been reached in Texas which is great.

      Thanks for an informative and interesting read on this Sunday morning, Peggy!


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Will,

      Lucky that nothing ever happened when you were boys being daredevils with an alligator. :)

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      When we lived in South Carolina, there was a large pond in a neighboring swampy area with an enormous alligator. We were boys and daredevils of course, so we used to aggravate it. I never told my mother about it until I was in my twenties, but it still earned me a scolding!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Perspycacious,

      That is for sure! I give snakes a wide berth!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 20 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Don't take rattlesnakes or other poisonous snakes lightly either. Remember the "ounce of prevention" when it comes to environmental hazards. They are not all in the air..

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi ChitrangadaSharan,

      We have also mainly seen them in zoo settings but they are certainly around us in various bayous, ponds and the like and we are cautious when warned. Glad you liked this hub.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rachel,

      Yes...depending upon where in the state of Texas your daughter lives...some areas are much more prone to having alligators than others. Nice that you do not have to be concerned with them where you live.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Frank,

      It pays to be cautious if ever around a place that has alligators. Nice that you don't have to be concerned about them where you live.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 20 months ago from New Delhi, India

      What an interesting, informative and educational hub about the mighty Alligators!

      I have always seen them in Zoo. I enjoyed learning more about them through your hub. Incredible pictures and a well presented hub.

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi tirelesstraveler,

      There were probably alligators lurking but just did not show themselves that day when you wanted to see them. That WOULD be scary to have one in a parking garage! Definitely out of a normal environment for an alligator!

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 20 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Peggy, There are no alligators here in PA where I live, but if there were I would be very respectful of them, for sure. My granddaughter lives in Texas, I'll have to remind her to respect them too.

      Blessings to you.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 20 months ago from Shelton

      alligators are great looking creatures, but thank goodness we don't have them up here.. What a wonderful share yet again Peggy W... I will listen to all signs posted when it comes to alligators.. :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Alicia,

      Nice to know you will never very likely have an encounter with an alligator or hurricane for that matter. Thanks for the share.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 20 months ago from California

      To me being from California, alligators are scary beasts. I was in Rockport, Texas for my nephew's wedding last July and went to a wild life preserve. There was a 5' tall boardwalk that said Alligator observation station with a sign that said,"Alligators Are Dangerous". There was no fence or anything. There were no alligators either. While I wanted to see one, nobody else really did.

      My cousin is fiercely afraid of alligators. There was one in a parking garage near her office in Houston, she almost had a stoke when she heard she had been that close to one.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is very interesting and educational, Peggy. Alligators live so far away from me that I'm never likely to see a wild one in real life, but I always enjoy learning about them. I'll share this hub.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jackie,

      Visiting that farm in Florida and the parks in South Carolina must have been quite an experience. If they were well fed and you were at a reasonable distance away from them, perhaps that is the reason they seemed so docile.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      You would certainly not want to go swimming in a lake that is known to have alligators in it. We are enjoying the spring weather and all the gorgeous azaleas in bloom along with many other blooming flowers, shrubs and trees. It is a gorgeous time of year in Texas.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 20 months ago from The Beautiful South

      They are fun to see. We use to visit farms in Florida and there was a park in South Carolina we went to often that had them and with no barriers and it seemed so scary but they were never aggressive, I think they must have fed them something to drowse them up. The rarely batted an eye and we were there so many times. Seems inhumane but fine by me. lol

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 20 months ago from North Texas

      We have alligators up here too, and they've been observed in Lewisville Lake. Seems like there's unusual wildlife everywhere nowadays. Very scary to think about. Sharing this fascinating hub!

      Hope all is well with you and that you're enjoying our early spring.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello emge,

      I agree with you that alligators are fascinating and yet fearful as well. People need to be alert if they are sharing similar spaces.

    • emge profile image

      Madan 20 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      Alligators are fascinating creatures, yet fearful. This is a nice hub. We have lots of alligators in India as well.