Alligator being held at a park.

Alligators as Pets: Cool Idea or Asking For Trouble?


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Some people keep alligators as pets. However, is it a smart move to own this exotic animal, or are they asking for trouble? This is why pet alligators are, most definitely, a bad idea.

Anyone who's seen a baby alligator or been to Florida (they do love their gators!) might have pondered this question one time or another: can I have a pet alligator? And if yes, do they make good pets?

Well, this might surprise you a little, but people are known to keep alligators as pets. In fact, while there are no official numbers on how many people have this exotic pet in the United States, some states do have estimates: there are an estimated 5000 in the state of Michigan; at least 50 in Phoenix, Arizona; and as many as 52 American alligators are surrendered to the city of Chicago's Animal Care and Control in a year.

Whether you want a pet gator because you're looking for a crazy, non-traditional pet or you just think they are cool AF (which we are not denying), let's talk about why being a pet owner to an alligator is not a good idea. (Let alone the gator's 80 teeth that can easily BREAK HUMAN BONES.)

Why Owning a Pet Alligator Is a Bad Idea

For starters, alligators are crocodilians -- a group of predatory reptiles dating back to 95 million years ago. Yes, alligators are pretty much dinosaurs! This also means the wild animals are top predators and see nearly everything as food. (Keep away any small mammals they can eat with a single bite!) Alligator attacks on their owners are not unheard of. Unlike cats and dogs (or even most "traditional" pets), you can't expect to domesticate an alligator as they are hardwired to be a dangerous animal.

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They also get REALLY big. Yes, baby alligators are undeniably cute, but like all baby animals, they grow. Alligators can grow up to a foot a year, and they don't take long to get big. Alligators have indeterminate growth: they grow quite quickly at the beginning and never stop growing during their 80 years of life expectancy. Female alligators can grow up to 10 feet, while male alligators can grow up to 15 feet! Because of this, alligators require a ton of habitat space and they eat a lot: a growing gator needs to eat up to ¼ of his body weight.

That's why it's best to keep alligators in their natural habitat of freshwater environments, like swamps, lakes, and wetlands, and not in your backyard as pets. Better stick to visiting alligator farms in places such as Florida and Louisiana. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Know anyone who keeps an alligator as a pet? Share their story at our Wide Open Pets Facebook!

READ MORE: Skunks as Pets: A Good Companion or Smelly Nightmare?