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Alligators in North Carolina
Are There Alligators in North Carolina?
Alligators have made a comeback in North Carolina after almost being eradicated in the early twentieth century. The beasts have been sighted as far north as the Great Dismal Swamp near the VA/NC border.
Lake Mattamuskeet and the Alligator River have become ideal habitat for North Carolina’s alligators. According to Johnson County’s newspaper, The Herald, a farmer near Lake Mattamuskeet encountered a 14 footer in front of one of the grain bins, apparently finding it a warm spot to rest. The Game Warden was called in to remove the monster and release it back into a wilder location.
If you are driving to the Outer Banks you might be lucky enough to see an alligator enjoying a nice bask in the sun in the canal that runs along highway 64 between Columbia, NC and Mann’s Harbor.
North Carolina’s more southern counties naturally have the highest of the State’s alligator population. Perhaps the most famous are the alligators that swim around the battle ship USS North Carolina in Wilmington, NC. A sign warns visitors to the memorial ship, “Caution Alligators are Dangerous.”
Life of an Alligator
Alligators are carnivorous and they are opportunists. They eat whatever is available – fish, other alligators, cats, dogs, small livestock, humans. Meat’s meat as far as the gator knows. They are aggressive and will attack humans so do not approach them. The average lifespan of the alligator is 30-50 years, with the maximum most likely occurring in captivity.
Alligators prefer fresh water streams and canals but will venture into the brackish waters of the coastal estuaries and have even been known to take a swim in the ocean. A member of the reptile family, gators are cold-blooded and cannot tolerate extreme temperatures. They dig into the earth and make dens where they rest during very hot or cold days. The “doorways” to these dens are usually accessed under water.
The alligator begins courtship in April and breeding goes on until May or early June. The female lays her eggs in a nest she constructed of vegetation. The nest is about two feet high and five feet in diameter. The eggs take about 65 days to hatch. The hatchlings leave the nest in early fall, but the mother keeps a close watch over them until the following spring when breeding season begins again.
- 10-foot alligator shows up on North Carolina beach | WCNC.com Charlotte
A 10-foot alligator has been relocated after it showed up on a North Carolina beach.
They are Protected by Law
Federal law protects alligators as a threatened species. Individual states are allowed to manage and control their alligator populations. Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas will issue permits to kill nuisance or dangerous alligators. In North Carolina hunting or killing an alligator is illegal and only state wildlife officials can remove problem gators.