Are There Alligators in the Florida Keys?

August 9, 2018

Are there alligators in the Florida Keys? The short answer is: yes, but not many.


A study in the 1980s found approximately 130 alligators in the entirety of the Florida Keys. However, over 50 of these alligators were hatchlings and juveniles. If you want to see an alligator in the Keys, the

best place to look for one is at the Blue Hole, a large rainwater pond on Big Pine Key. 


The Florida Keys are home to another large reptile, though: crocodiles. Crocodiles are found throughout the Keys. Most are probably in the Upper Keys, where Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge has been set aside for their protection. However, they can be found all the way out to the end of the Keys. For years, Dry Tortuga National Park was home to Cletus, a large crocodile who was a popular sight for tourists. At least, he was a popular sight until he started frequenting the swimming beach, at which point park officials moved him to the Everglades.


As a general rule, crocodiles are more dangerous than their alligator cousins, although the danger posed by the crocodiles in the Keys is minimal. The Keys have been home to only one known crocodile attack. In April 2011, at 3:00 AM in the morning, a couple kayaking home flipped their boat. While in the water, a crocodile bit each of them on the leg. Both recovered and now have a story to tell for the rest of their lives.

Want to learn more about the Florida Keys? Check out 101 Travel Bits: The Florida Keys and Overseas Highway.

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