Can You Have A Pet Alligator? State by State Breakdown

Home » Can You Have A Pet Alligator? State by State Breakdown
Last updated: May 15, 2023 at 11:00 am

When you think of the phrase “pet reptiles” you most likely think of snakes, bearded dragons, iguanas, or something similar. However, have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a pet alligator? While the thought of it may seem appealing, there are many things you should consider before ever making a commitment like that.

But is owning a pet alligator even legal? And if so, where do you purchase them legally? We will answer these questions and more throughout this blog post.

Is It Legal to Have A Pet Alligator?

The legal status of pet alligators varies from state to state, but you’ll probably be surprised to learn that the US is not as strict as you’d think on the matter. While many states don’t allow for the personal possession of an alligator or other exotic pets, there are many that do. In fact, a handful of states even allow you to own a pet alligator without special licensing.

Below is a map that provides a state-by-state breakdown of the pet alligator laws in the US. We do our best to keep this updated, but you should always speak to your local law enforcement before purchasing a pet alligator.

US map depicting state laws for keeping an alligator as a pet

Pet Alligator Restrictions

As you’d probably expect, there are many rules and restrictions in place for the states that allow alligator ownership. Below are some of these rules:

  • Certain states require a Class II Personal Pet License in order for an alligator to be owned.
  • All alligators require their own enclosure, and must be placed on property that contains both land and water.
  • Under no circumstances should a pet alligator ever be released into the wild. Doing so can result in serious fines and jail time.

Do Alligators Make Good Pets?

No, alligators do not make good pets and should only be raised by trained professionals. Despite their prehistoric appearance and the allure of owning an exotic animal, alligators are not suitable pets for the average person. These creatures require specific care and expertise to ensure their wellbeing and the safety of those around them.

Alligators are large and powerful animals that can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh over 1,000 pounds. They are instinctively wild and territorial, with sharp teeth and strong jaws capable of delivering a crushing bite. 

Even when raised in captivity, alligators retain their natural instincts and can become aggressive, especially during breeding season or if they feel threatened. Their strength and unpredictability make them a significant risk to people and other pets around them, as well as a danger to themselves if not handled properly. 

Moreover, alligators have specific dietary and environmental needs that can be challenging to provide in a domestic setting, and they can carry diseases that are harmful to humans. Therefore, alligators should only be kept and cared for by experts in licensed and regulated facilities, not as household pets.

Alligator Fun Facts

  1. Alligators are ancient reptiles that have existed for over 200 million years, and are closely related to birds.
  1. Alligators are found in the southeastern United States, mainly in Florida and Louisiana, as well as parts of Central and South America.
  1. Alligators are cold-blooded animals that regulate their body temperature by basking in the sun or swimming in warm water.
  1. Alligators can hold their breath for up to two hours underwater, and can swim at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.
  1. Alligators have a powerful bite force of over 2,000 pounds per square inch, which helps them to break through the tough shells of turtles and other prey.
  1. Alligators have a unique vocalization that sounds like a low rumbling growl, used mainly for communication during mating season.
  1. Alligators are opportunistic feeders, and will eat just about anything they can catch, including fish, birds, turtles, and small mammals.
  1. Alligators are apex predators in their ecosystem, meaning that they have no natural predators except for humans.
  1. President Herbert Hoover famously kept two pet alligators named “Bill” and “Al” in the White House during his time in office in the 1920s.
  1. Alligators have been known to play a role in their ecosystem as “ecosystem engineers,” creating habitats for other animals through their burrows and nesting sites.

Where Can You Buy Pet Alligators?

Not all online reptile stores sell alligators. In fact, they are one of the more difficult reptiles to find on the market. Luckily, there are a few known places that sell alligators online.

Backwater Reptiles, Underground Reptiles, and Exotic Reptile Shop all have alligators for sale. Again, always be sure to check your local laws before making a purchase. Ensure that you do thorough research on both raising an alligator and the vendor you’re considering buying from.

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