A young American Alligator from Wildcat Creek on 10 June 2020, Riley County. Photographer unknown.
A 64-inch long found floating in Coffey County Lake. Photo courtesy Michael Pearce, Wichita Eagle.
REPTILIA (Reptiles) CROCODYLIA (Alligators and Crocodiles) ALLIGATORIDAE (Alligators)

American Alligator
Alligator mississippiensis (Daudin 1801)
ăl-əh-gā-tər — mĭ-sə-'sĭ-pē-ĭn-sĭs


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: Listed as Threatened Due to Similarity of Appearance
NatureServe State: SNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
The American Alligator has a large, slightly rounded body, with thick limbs, a broad head, and a very powerful tail. They generally have an olive, brown, gray, or nearly black color with a creamy white underside.
Adult male alligators are typically 11.2 to 14.5 ft (3.4 to 4.4 m) in length, though rarely exceeding 14 feet, while adult females average 8.2 to 9.8 ft (2.5 to 3.0 m).

Distribution:
Known only from introduced individuals. There are no wild reproducing populations of the American Alligator in Kansas. The closest reproducing populations are along the Red River in southeastern Oklahoma.
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record), (  Fossil)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
Full range depicted by light shaded red area. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 5
    Records 
  • 0
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 5
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Atchison (1); Coffey (1); Riley (1); Shawnee (2);

Fossil History:
Fossils from the Cragin Quarry Local Fauna of Meade County (Pleistocene: Sangamonian) (Hay 1917; Etheridge 1958; Etheridge 1960, Tihen 1960; Tihen 1962; Brattstrom 1967; Preston 1979; Holman 1995) are assignable to this genus.

Natural History:
The breeding season begins in the spring. Although American Alligators have no vocal cords, males bellow loudly to attract mates and warn off other males during this time by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars.
American Alligators do not breed in Kansas.

Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 5; Range: 28 Jan to 08 Aug
Remarks:
American Alligators are popular pets. There are no State of Kansas regulations that prohibit them, however many communities have ordinances against possessing them in their jurisdiction.
American Alligators grow large quickly and are difficult pets to manage past three-foot in length. Pet American Alligators are often released into the wild when they outgrow the ability of their owners to keep them. They will not survive the winter in Kansas.

Bibliography:
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Editorial notes. Bulletin of the Washburn Laboratory of Natural History 1(3):111-112
Mention of the American Alligator in Kansas.
1929 Kellogg, Remington. The habitats and economic importance of alligators. United States Department of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin No. 147, Washington, D. C.. 36pp.
"In 1885, Cragin (12, p. 111) stated that alligators were reported to have come up the Arkansas River as far north as Wichita, in Sedgwick County, Kans., but that they were undoubtedly rare stragglers in Kansas."
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1994 Ross, Charles A. and Carl H. Ernst. Alligator mississippiensis . Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (600):1-14
1995 Holman, J. Alan. Pleistocene Amphibians and Reptiles. Oxford University Press, New York. 243pp.
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 131pp.
2012 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada: Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 152pp.
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2017 Crother, Brian I. (editor) Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. Eighth edition. Herpetological Circulars (43):102
2019 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada. Third Edition. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 192pp.
Account Last Updated:
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Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University