American alligators, the only crocodilian native to SC

American alligator on Hwy 22 in Horry County (source: Facebook viewer Deb Bellamy)
American alligator on Hwy 22 in Horry County (source: Facebook viewer Deb Bellamy)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The American Alligator was once federally endangered, but now the species has rebounded and from time to time we catch a glimpse of the scaly amphibians.

Run-ins with alligators can be frightening, particularly if they are close by. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says the American Alligator is the only crocodilian native to South Carolina, so if you see one, that's its type. They can live more than 60 years, and grow to be longer than 13 feet.

The SCDNR website says the American alligator resides mainly in large river swamps, lakes, ponds, coastal impoundments, abandoned rice fields and other bodies of water. This doesn't mean you won't run across them occasionally in other places.

The SCDNR has a link to the University of Georgia website with information on how to be safe around alligators. It says:

  • Don't feed alligators.
  • Keep your distance.
  • Do not attempt to move alligators out of the road.
  • Never disturb nests or small alligators.
  • Do not attempt to keep alligators as pets.
  • Keep your pets and children away from alligators.
  • It is best to avoid swimming in areas that are known habitats for large alligators.
  • Do not corner alligators.

Additionally, you are most likely to encounter alligators:

  • When they are basking beside water bodies.
  • If you approach a female alligator or  her babies.
  • While conducting recreational activities (swimming, canoeing, fishing) in waterways with alligators.
  • When they are crossing the road.
  • If they have been fed and have become habituated to humans.

Copyright 2013 WMBF News. All rights reserved.