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Don't Mess with Alligators in Texas!

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Alligators Spotted in Houston Metro Area

We recently learned on the nightly news that an alligator was in Cinco Ranch in Katy, Texas. Cinco Ranch is approximately five miles from where we live in Houston. The alligator was captured and will be relocated to a wildlife ranch to live out its days. Alligators are necessary to keep the balance of nature in check as they eat snakes and other small critters which could otherwise get out of hand.

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

Construction of many new homes takes place around retention ponds in our area of Houston, Texas, and the surrounding lands. It is so flat here, and those retention ponds safeguard against heavy rains to keep the homes and businesses from flooding.

American Alligators

American Alligator

American Alligator

Waterfront Living in Houston

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

In many 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 pretty, and often they have fountains in the center 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 last weekend in a local park 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 sizable alligator can hide in as little as one foot of water and not be sighted if the water is murky!

Sign warning of possible alligators in the area.

Sign warning of possible alligators in the area.

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 bigger than that. Males grow larger than females and can attain ten feet in length, or even more. Some surprisingly large specimens occasionally turn up in places.

If they ever get into areas where they could be a danger to people, alligators are often captured and removed to a more natural location, 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.

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 reach a larger size, they become more aggressive. At that point, their capture and relocation would take place. Still, it was of concern, and they always kept an eye on their pet.

When my mother and I visited several state parks in Florida, there were warning signs of possible alligators. Alligators have a right to live, but people should take reasonable precautions so that the balance of nature can be kept intact.

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 upon for help with the relocation of alligators are the Texas Parks and Wildlife or a 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 the 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 near the Texas coastline.

American Alligator

American Alligator

Alligator FAQs

  • Did you know that alligators hatch from eggs just like birds? Both birds and alligators break open that protective shell when ready to hatch with 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 buried eggs are in a mound. The dirt and vegetation compressed over the eggs are warmed by the earth and sun until time for hatching.
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  • A "pod" is the name for a group of hatched alligators. A pod is also 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 around 20 miles per hour. On land, that speed drops to 11 miles per hour or so. Unless prey is very near the water's edge, most of the alligator's prey is caught in the water.
  • As an alligator matures and grows, the preferred diet of things consumed grows more substantive right along with it. In the beginning, a baby alligator will eat insects, minnows, and the like. As they grow, alligators move on to objects such as birds, turtles, snakes, fish, etc. Deer and other larger animals that may be drinking water can become caught and eaten.
  • In the 1960s, alligators were on the endangered species list and might have become extinct. They have made a remarkable resurgence with protective measures. No longer endangered, there is now an open season in Texas where hunting of alligators takes place to help keep them in balance with nature. A valid hunting license is mandatory, and the limit per person is one per season.
  • Often one will see the eyes and nostrils of the alligator above water with the rest of the body below the surface. They can hold their breath underwater for quite some time.
Large American Alligator

Large American Alligator

Heed Warning Signs!

Always heed signs warning of alligators! Until July 2015, no humans in Texas had ever died because of 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. That alligator was eventually caught and killed. It was sad for the young man and his family, and it is equally unfortunate for the alligator that was merely acting like these animals do when hungry or threatened.

American alligator in water

American alligator in water


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 25, 2018:

So true, Robert. If one lives near a bayou or any type of waterway where alligators might be present it is always best to keep pets on a leash and be cautious.

Robert Sacchi on September 24, 2018:

It seems best to keep pets away from water's edge in alligator country.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 24, 2018:

Hi Robert,

I am sure that some alligators are also occasionally killed in other southern states if given enough cause. Most of the time alligators are relocated if at all possible. Those that are known to have killed, particularly people, are hunted down and eliminated.

Robert Sacchi on September 23, 2018:

True. Do you think it's one of those "only in Texas" stories.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 23, 2018:

Hi Robert,

That is certainly good motivation for her to have taken action against that alligator. Sad story!

Robert Sacchi on September 22, 2018:

It ate her miniature horse.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 22, 2018:

Hi Robert,

Somehow I missed reading that or seeing it on the news. She must have had a good reason for doing so because it is against the law to harm alligators.

Robert Sacchi on September 22, 2018:

I read one of you mayors, Judy Cochran or Livingston, killed an alligator.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 22, 2018:

Hi Rajan,

Nice that you do not have to concern yourself with the threat of alligators. Normally speaking alligators and humans can survive in the same areas if respect is given to them. The times when humans get injured or killed is when they typically do foolish things. The last person killed in Texas jumped into waters where signs were posted not to swim due to alligators being present. He did anyway and lost his life in the process. That was most unusual.

As to wrestling alligators, assuredly much practice would be needed!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 22, 2018:

We do not have any alligators around where I live. I'm thankful for that though I would never venture anywhere near them in any case. The guy who captured the alligator from the pool made it seem so easy but I realize how much practice & experience must have gone into it.

Information about alligators. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2018:

Hi Ethel,

It is just a fact of life for anyone living in certain states in the U.S. Seldom does anything happen to humans if they are cautious.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 08, 2018:

Interesting information thanks Peggy. I cannot imagine living with a threat from snakes and alligators but all relative I guess Peggy. That captured alligator looked so huge and menacing. Poor Husky

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 16, 2018:

Hi C E Clark,

Many of our waterways and even man made ponds have warning signs regarding the possibility of alligators being there. Yes they can migrate into unexpected places.

C E Clark from North Texas on June 16, 2018:

Sharing this article on FB again. As I said last time, it is no longer safe to swim in Lewisville Lake, just north of Dallas, and now I have heard that it isn't always safe in one's back yard if one lives not far from that lake. Alligators don't always stay by the lake!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 24, 2017:

Hi Robert,

Yes I guess we have scorpions in Texas although I have never personally seen one. We obviously have snakes.

Robert Sacchi on December 23, 2017:

Snakes and scorpions are all part of living in Texas, yes?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 23, 2017:

Hi Robert,

That would have been a scary situation! Hopefully animal control people took care of it just like they do here if an alligator gets into neighborhoods outside of normal areas in which they reside.

Robert Sacchi on December 22, 2017:

When I was in San Antonio a coworker got on television because there was a rattlesnake infestation in his neighborhood.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 22, 2017:

Hi Robert,

Yes we have rattlesnakes and all kinds of other poisonous ones as well. We just learn to be cautious when in areas where alligators and snakes and other critters live.

Robert Sacchi on December 21, 2017:

Sort of like rattlesnakes in Texas?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 21, 2017:

Hi Robert,

Alligators do live here and people just need to take normal precautions in avoiding conflicts with them. When they end up in people's yards it usually makes the news but that is relatively rare.

Robert Sacchi on December 20, 2017:

Are alligators a major problem along the Texas Gulf Coast, or just another one of the native Texas animals?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 13, 2017:

Hi Patricia,

I imagine many alligators were also displaced due to the hurricane that hit here in Texas because of all of the unexpected water that inundated areas where there previously was none. Too bad about the one that got hit when crossing the road in Florida. Thanks for the good thoughts. Sending them your way as well!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 13, 2017:

O Peggy It breaks my heart when I see and hear of those who torment any kind of animal...How sad. I do not know where I have been but I did not know that there are gators in Texas. We have a bunch here as you know. I saw one (sadly deceased) two weeks ago when I was walking. From the hurricane we have lots of new places for them to try to call home and that is no doubt what happened to that baby...he was crossing the main road. Where was his Momma?

Always I am glad to come to read and reread, Peggy. Blessings and hugs are on the way on the wings of Angels. ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2016:

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.

C E Clark from North Texas on May 16, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 20, 2016:

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.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 20, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 19, 2016:

Hi Will,

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

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on March 18, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2016:

Hi Perspycacious,

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

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on March 18, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2016:

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.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 18, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2016:

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 from Every Day Cooking and Baking on March 17, 2016:

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 from Shelton on March 17, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2016:

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.

Judy Specht from California on March 16, 2016:

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.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 16, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2016:

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 from the beautiful south on March 16, 2016:

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

C E Clark from North Texas on March 16, 2016:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2016:

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.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 16, 2016:

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

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