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Sharing Our Lake: Understanding American Alligators at Lake Eufaula


An Alligator in a Swampy Marsh Area in Lake Eufaula Alabama
Photo by Keith Schriner

Lake Eufaula is a beautiful spot for boating, fishing, and enjoying nature. But remember, we share this ecosystem with some fascinating resident wildlife, including the American Alligator. Knowing a bit about alligator behavior can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.


Seeing Signs of Gators

Alligators are shy creatures, but they're not uncommon at Lake Eufaula. Here are some signs you might encounter them:

  • Basking: Look for large, dark shapes lying motionless on logs or the shoreline. This is how alligators regulate their body temperature.

  • Slides: Smooth, muddy areas entering the water are likely used by alligators entering and exiting the lake.

  • Nests: Built out of vegetation on the water's edge, these resemble small islands. Avoid disturbing nesting areas.

Understanding Alligator Behavior

  • Diet: Alligators are opportunistic feeders, eating fish, turtles, small mammals, and even carrion. They're not constantly hunting, but it's good to be aware.

  • Territoriality:  Larger alligators are typically more territorial. They may perform threat displays like hissing, bellowing, or slapping the water to warn off intruders.

  • Shyness:  Generally, alligators will avoid humans. However, females guarding nests or individuals feeling cornered may act aggressively.

Sharing the Lake Safely

  • Maintain Distance:  The golden rule: admire alligators from afar. Use binoculars for a closer look and avoid approaching them on land or in the water.

  • Be Aware of Surroundings:  Pay attention to basking areas and avoid swimming near dense vegetation where alligators might rest.

  • Keep Pets on Leash:  Curious pets can provoke an alligator. Keep your furry friends leashed and away from the water's edge.

  • Never Feed Alligators:  Feeding alligators habituates them to humans, leading to dangerous interactions.


Alligator eye peeking out of water
Photo by Charesa Burkes Danielson

Alligator Facts vs. Myths for Friends of Lake Eufaula

  • Myth: Alligators are aggressive and will attack humans on sight.

  • Fact: Alligator attacks on humans are very rare. Alligators are generally shy and prefer to avoid confrontation. However, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened, especially if cornered or protecting their nest.


  • Myth: Alligators can outrun a human.

  • Fact: While alligators are fast for short bursts in water, they are slow on land. An adult human can easily outrun an alligator on land.


  • Myth: Alligators can only live in freshwater.

  • Fact: While alligators prefer freshwater, they can tolerate saltwater for short periods of time. They have been known to travel between freshwater and saltwater habitats.

  • Myth: Alligators are not very intelligent.

  • Fact: Alligators are actually quite intelligent reptiles. They have good memories and can learn complex behaviors.


  • Myth: Baby alligators are more dangerous than adult alligators.

  • Fact: While adult alligators are certainly more powerful than baby alligators, both can be dangerous if they feel threatened. It is important to avoid alligators of all sizes.

  • Myth: Alligators will chase you underwater.

  • Fact: Alligators are ambush predators and prefer to lie in wait for prey. They are not likely to chase you underwater unless they feel threatened.


Alligator swimming in open water
Photo by Leigh Redden Bedsole

Coexisting with Alligators

By understanding and respecting these magnificent creatures, we can all safely enjoy Lake Eufaula. If you ever see an alligator exhibiting threatening behavior, report it to your local Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries office. Lake Eufaula is located in District 4, and their number is 334-347-9467.

Remember: Knowledge is power! By sharing information about alligator behavior, Friends of Lake Eufaula can promote responsible recreation and ensure our lake remains a haven for humans and wildlife alike. Friends of Lake Eufaula is a non-profit organization founded in 2009 that is dedicated to promoting, preserving, and educating people about the natural beauty and resources of Lake Eufaula. If you would like to help join us in our mission, we would love to have you as a member. Becoming a member is simple-click here to join today!

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