Ohio is an unexpected locale for encountering alligators, given their preference for warmer climates and freshwater habitats. Nevertheless, there have been noteworthy instances of alligators appearing in the state, whether spotted, captured, or unfortunately killed. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the narratives of the five largest alligators ever discovered in Ohio, shedding light on these captivating reptiles.
The 7-Foot Alligator in Groveport
In 2019, a group of kayakers stumbled upon a 7-foot alligator in a creek near Groveport, Ohio. Surprisingly, the reptile had fashioned a makeshift shelter from sticks and logs, indicating it had been dwelling there for a while. Authorities were alerted, leading to the involvement of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The ODNR safely captured the alligator, later named “Groveport Gator,” and transported it to the zoo for examination and care. The creature’s origin remains a mystery, but it is presumed to have been either a released or escaped pet.
The 6-Foot Alligator in Lorain County
In 2018, a passerby discovered a lifeless 6-foot alligator in a ditch along a road in Lorain County, Ohio. The creature had succumbed to a bullet wound in its head. Following an investigation by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and the ODNR, it was revealed that the alligator’s demise resulted from a man claiming to be its owner, who asserted that he had shot it due to illness. This individual faced charges of animal cruelty and possession of a dangerous wild animal without a permit.
The 5-Foot Alligator in Muskingum County
Back in 2011, a fisherman stumbled upon a 5-foot alligator in a pond in Muskingum County, Ohio. This alligator was among the 56 exotic animals released by their owner, Terry Thompson, who tragically took his own life. Law enforcement, along with the ODNR, had to track down and eliminate most of these animals, including lions, tigers, bears, and wolves, to ensure public safety. The alligator, dubbed “Muskingum Gator,” was one of the fortunate six captured alive and taken to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Eventually, it found a new home on an alligator farm in Florida.
The 4-Foot Alligator in Hamilton County
In 2015, a homeowner in Hamilton County discovered a 4-foot alligator hiding under leaves and branches in their backyard. Law enforcement and Arrowhead Reptile Rescue were called to the scene. The rescue team named the alligator “Hamilton Gator” and planned to relocate it to a sanctuary or zoo. The creature’s origin remains uncertain, but abandonment or escape from an owner is suspected.
The 3-Foot Alligator in Franklin County
In 2014, a sewer worker in Franklin County found a barely alive 3-foot alligator stuck in a pipe. The Franklin County Animal Care and Control, along with the ODNR and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, intervened. The alligator, named “Franklin Gator,” was rescued, treated, and became a permanent resident at the zoo. Its origin is unclear, but it’s believed to have been either flushed down the toilet or abandoned in the sewer.
Despite not being native to Ohio, alligators occasionally make their presence felt in the state due to human actions. Some individuals keep them as pets, leading to releases or escapes into the wild. While some are fortunate enough to be rescued and relocated, others face unfortunate fates.
Alligators, as remarkable creatures, warrant respect and protection but are unsuitable as pets for most people. If you ever encounter an alligator in Ohio, report it to the authorities rather than approaching it. For those intrigued by these fascinating creatures, a visit to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium provides an opportunity to meet Groveport Gator, Muskingum Gator, and Franklin Gator.