Arkansas is home to a variety of wildlife, from the majestic bird life of the Ozarks to the small mammals found throughout the state; however, few species have the same reputation as the American alligator. These powerful reptiles have been around for millions of years and can be found in several parts of the state. This article is a guide to the alligators of Arkansas and how to safely enjoy viewing them.
The American alligator is a common sight in many of the state’s wetlands, and they are a vital part of the local ecology. They help keep the food chain in balance and provide a natural predator to keep other species in check. Alligators can reach large sizes and can be dangerous if provoked, so it’s important to understand how to safely observe them in the wild. This guide covers the basics of alligator behavior, safety tips, and how to identify alligators in Arkansas.
1. Where to find alligators in Arkansas
Arkansas is home to two species of alligators, the American alligator and the smaller Chinese alligator. The American alligator is found mainly in the southern part of the state, in low-lying areas, swamps, and rivers. The Chinese alligator is rarely seen in Arkansas and is usually found in the northern part of the state.
The best places to locate alligators in Arkansas are in the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area, on the White River, and in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, you can also find alligators in some of the marshland areas near the Mississippi River.
2. Alligator behavior and habits
Alligators in Arkansas tend to be relatively shy and reclusive animals, preferring to keep to themselves and avoid people. During the day, they will bask in the sun, often on the banks of ponds, lakes, rivers and other bodies of water.
At night they will hunt in the water, usually for smaller prey like fish and frogs. Alligators are solitary creatures and territorial, so they will fiercely protect their areas and mark them with their musk. They will also often vocalize with loud bellows and hisses when disturbed.
3. Alligator safety tips
It is important to remember that alligators are wild animals and should be treated with caution. Here are three safety tips to keep in mind when exploring areas with alligators:
1. Always remain at least 30 feet away from alligators
2. Never feed the alligators
3. If you see an alligator in your yard or community, contact a local wildlife expert for assistance in safely removing the animal from the area.
By following these safety tips, you can help ensure that you and the alligators stay safe as you explore Arkansas’s wild places.
4. How to identify an alligator
Alligators in Arkansas are relatively easy to identify due to their large size, long snouts, and scaly hides. Adult alligators in Arkansas typically measure 8-12 feet long and can weigh up to 600 pounds. They have a wide, U-shaped snout and their eyes, ears, and nostrils are all located on the top of their head. Alligators in Arkansas have a scaly hide with a pattern of black or brown scales that is unique to each individual. When alligators in Arkansas are in the water, only their eyes and nostrils are visible, making them hard to spot.
5. How to report an alligator sighting
If you happen to spot an alligator in Arkansas, it’s important to report the sighting. Alligator sightings are a rare occurrence in Arkansas, so it’s important to help wildlife officials track and monitor their movements. To report an alligator sighting, contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at (800) 364-4263. When you call, be sure to provide as much detail as possible, including the exact location of the sighting, the size of the alligator, and any other pertinent information. You can also report alligator sightings online at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website.
In conclusion, alligators in Arkansas are a unique and exciting experience, and a great opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the state. With the proper precautions and respect for the safety of the alligators, everyone can enjoy the wonders of Arkansas’s alligators. Whether you’re looking for a chance to observe them in their natural habitat, or to take a guided tour, Arkansas is a great place to start exploring these fascinating creatures.