Are there Alligators in CT?

I’m sure you’ve seen it on the news – an alligator that was recently caught in the Connecticut River. So, you’ve decided to check the internet to find out if there are really alligators in CT.

This article will cover everything you need to know about alligators in Connecticut, including recent sightings, their population, and where to find them in the state. So, let’s dive in.

An alligator swimming in a lake in CT.

Reports of an Alligator in the Connecticut River

There have been several reports of an alligator in Connecticut over the past few years. For example, in 2020 an alligator was spotted running loose in Willimantic, near Eastern Connecticut State University. That gator was never found.

Before that, another sighting of an alligator was reported in an East Lyme lake back in 2019. Connecticut’s DEEP Wildlife Division was called to take look into the situation but came back empty-handed.

Most recently (in 2021), numerous fishermen and kayakers were seeing a young gator in the Connecticut River over the course of several months. This was actually in Massachusetts but was only 10 miles from the CT border. That alligator was caught and removed from the river.

Fortunately, most alligator sightings are reported to be young or juvenile alligators, no more than a foot or two long. That’s because Connecticut’s alligators aren’t breeding.

Alligator Population in CT

The alligator population in Connecticut is effectively zero because they can’t survive the winter. Alligators prefer warmer climates, which is why they aren’t commonly found in any states north of North Carolina.

The gators that are being found in CT are most likely being released into the wild by pet owners once they get too big. While these alligators can thrive in the summer months, once fall and winter roll around, they don’t fare very well. As a reptile, they simply freeze in the cold.

Can you Own a Pet Alligator in Connecticut?

You cannot legally own a pet alligator in CT. Many states considered American alligators to be exotic animals, so ownership is banned. Only licensed facilities, like zoos, can own an alligator.

These rules are for the better as adult alligators can grow up to 15 feet and weigh over 1,500 pounds. There is no way someone can keep an animal that big as a pet.

However, there are some states that allow residents to keep an alligator as a pet. States where you can legally own an alligator without a license, include:

  • Alabama
  • Nevada
  • Wisconson
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina

Florida also allows ownership of alligators, but you must get a special pet license.

What to Do if You See an Alligator in CT

If you see a CT alligator, you don’t have much to worry about if it’s small. The animal is likely more afraid of you than you are of it. With that being said, it’s best to keep your distance and stay out of the water.

All alligators and crocodiles spotted in Connecticut should be reported. You can call the DEEP Wildlife Division or animal control.

Where to Find Alligators in Connecticut (Zoo)

If you’re interested in seeing alligators in Connecticut, there are some places that legally house and care for them. The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport has live alligator and caiman exhibits on display (caiman are a smaller species of crocodilian).

The Riverside Reptiles Education Center in Enfield also has live American alligators and caiman. If you want to learn more about these zoos, I recommend you check out the article I wrote about all the best zoos in CT.

Connecticut Alligators – Final Thoughts

Alligators are only spotted in Connecticut once every few years, so it’s not something you need to worry about. It’s a very similar situation to the mountain lions in Connecticut. They are a handful of sightings, but Connecticut isn’t their home habitat.