Are There Alligators in Lake Okeechobee? (2023 Updated) (2023)

Two US states have the largest alligator inhabitants.

They are Florida and Louisiana.

There are approximately 1.3 million alligators living in Florida.

All 63 counties in Florida are home to alligators.

The most common alligator in the state, the American alligator, is typically found in freshwater lakes, slow-moving rivers, marshes, and swamps.

These alligators can grow to more than12 feet (3.6 meters) and weigh up to1,000 pounds (450 kilograms).

There have been numerous reports of alligator attacks in Florida over the years.

Are There Alligators in Lake Okeechobee? (2023 Updated) (1)


  • So… Are There Alligators in Lake Okeechobee?
  • AlligatorSpecies in Lake Okeechobee
  • Is it Safe to Swim in Lake Okeechobee?
  • Interesting AlligatorFacts in Lake Okeechobee
    • American alligators are faster than humans
    • Run in a straight direction
    • Alligators are opportunistic
    • Their bite is one of the deadliest and strongest in the world
    • The temperature of the eggs determines the gender
  • Alligators vs. Crocodiles
  • 3 Safety Tips for Swiming in Alligator-infestedWaters
  • Summary
  • Frequently Asked Questions
    • What is Lake Okeechobee famous for?
    • Can you see across Lake Okeechobee?
    • Do people live on Lake Okeechobee?

So… Are There Alligators in Lake Okeechobee?

The real question isn’t whether there are alligators in Lake Okeechobee, but rather how many alligators call Lake Okeechobee home.

Lake Okeechobee is730 km², making it one of the largest lakes in the United States and the largest freshwater lake in Florida.

The lake is only nine feet deep, and the Kissimmee river feeds into the lake.

The lake is 36 miles long and approximately 30 miles wide.

It is also one of the most alligator-infested lakes in the state.

You may wonder how scientists and biologists know this is the most alligator-infested lake in Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducts an annual census with various scientists and biologists.

The census serves a variety of purposes.

The team counts the alligators at 50 different locations throughout Florida.

The census is conducted at night.

The team ventures out on airboats and count the red eyes in the water.

An interesting point is that the distance between the eyes determines the size of the alligator.

Alligators that are longer than nine feet are labeled as bull alligators.

One of the primary reasons for the census is to monitor alligator populations.

A few decades ago, alligators were hunted to the point that they became endangered.

(Video) Which lake in Florida has the most alligators?

The census monitors the population, and hunting permits are issued to hunters according to the population size to prevent the same situation from happening again.

An interactive map online points out the various lakes, swamps, marshes, and rivers in Florida and approximately how many alligators can be found in each.

Now that we know how alligators are counted and how many live in Florida,let’s take a closer look at how many alligators live in or around Lake Okeechobee.

According to aFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionspokesperson, there are approximately 30,000 alligators in Lake Okeechobee.

Lake Okeechobee has the highest alligator count in the state.

The number of alligators found in Lake Okeechobee has afforded the lake the title ofthe gator capital of Florida.

AlligatorSpecies in Lake Okeechobee

The American alligator can be found in Lake Okeechobee.

These types of alligators have what is referred to as an armored body with a flat tail.

The male of the species is notably bigger than the female.

The average size of a male American alligator is 11.2 feet, while the average size for a female gator is 8.2 feet.

There have been reports of American alligators that reach half a ton in weight or approximately 1,000 pounds.

These alligators can live up to 50 years in the wild.

Their natural habitat stretches from North Carolina to the Rio Grande, Texas.

They are most prevalent in the Southeastern United States.

Is it Safe to Swim in Lake Okeechobee?

From looking at it, you may think Lake Okeechobee is an excellent lake to swim in.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Many dangers lurk beneath the lake’s surface, but people still swim, ski, jet-ski, and paddle in the lake.

On 13 June 2022, Florida health officials alerted residents of the presence of blue-green algae toxins in Lake Okeechobee.

The alert comes in response to water samples taken earlier in June.

Residents have been urged to avoid drinking the water, swimming, or using any personal watercraft on the lake.

Blue-green algae are a common occurrence in the freshwater environments in Florida and are very harmful to the health of humans and aquatic life.

According to The Florida Weekly, in a July 2010 report on the presence of sharks in Florida, the reporter pointed out that the bull shark is commonly found in many of the water bodies in Florida, including in coastal rivers, in passes, and backways.

There have been a few shark sightings in Lake Okeechobee.

The bull shark is considered to be the most dangerous species of shark to humans.

(Video) Alligator rushes out of water, steals Florida boy's fish in viral video

These sharks are known to attack humans and have very aggressive tendencies.

Nothing prohibits people from swimming in the lake.

However, even the probability that there could be sharks in the water is enough to scare most people, as it should.

There are signs all around the lake, at many swimming spots, warning residents and visitors of the high pollution rate in the water.

The water in the lake is very dark and murky.

This is the result of storm run-off, tannins, and agricultural pollution.

During heavy rains, chemicals used in golf courses and homes are washed off the properties and into the lake.

And finally, the alligators present in Lake Okeechobee make it a dangerous place to swim.

It is often referred to as the alligator capital of Florida.

Despite all these potential dangers lurking in and around the lake, residents, and visitors still frequently swim and boat on the lake, though it is advised not to do so.

Are There Alligators in Lake Okeechobee? (2023 Updated) (2)

Interesting AlligatorFacts in Lake Okeechobee

The following facts pertain to the American alligator commonly found in Lake Okeechobee.

American alligators are faster than humans

This is an important fact because it leads to the next two facts.

The fastest speed recorded by a sprinting alligator was 35 miles per hour.

It needs to be mentioned that alligators can only reach this speed in short bursts.

Nonetheless, it’s much faster than the average human speed of approximately 10 to 13 miles per hour.

That is why it is so important to remain vigilant in an area with alligators.

Run in a straight direction

We’ve all heard you should run in a zig-zag motion when an alligator chases you.

But experts advise against this.

Remember, alligators can only run for a short burst at a time before they get tired.

And, they are blind straight in front of their nose.

So chances are that you’ll be able to evade being caught.

In addition, alligators move their heads from left to right when trying to bite.

Running in a zig-zag motion may work in the alligator’s favor.

Here’s a tip that may save your life: if a gator ever chases you, try to find something you can jam down its throat to make it gag.

(Video) Lake Okeechobee lock and alligators

It should allow you to escape.

Alligators are opportunistic

Alligators are not like other carnivorous animals that actively go out and hunt.

They will wait until the opportunity presents itself.

These reptiles can often survive a few years without eating.

They lay in marshland waiting for prey.

As soon as the prey is close enough, they will attack.

An attack may be deadly for the unsuspecting prey that gets close enough.

That’s why we stated previously to always remain vigilant in areas where alligators are known to live.

Even if they are blind, straight in front of their noses, and can only run for short bursts at a time, if you are unaware of its presence andthere isn’t enough distance between you and the gator, the odds will most certainly be in the gator’s favor.

Their bite is one of the deadliest and strongest in the world

The alligator is estimated to have the third strongest bite in the animal kingdom.

Preceded by Nile and saltwater crocodiles.

According toProfessor Greg Erickson from Florida State University, who has extensively researched the reptile and its death grip, getting out of an alligator’s jaw is similar to lifting a tow truck off your body.

The temperature of the eggs determines the gender

Florida female Gators lay their eggs in late June to early July.

The female will lay between 30 and 90 eggs covered with vegetation to keep the eggs warm during the 65-day incubation period. Here’s the interesting part.

The temperature of the eggs will determine the sex of the baby gators.

When the temperature is above 93.2°F, the sex will be male; below 86°F, the sex will be female.

Any temperature within this range means that the sex can be either male or female.

Alligators vs. Crocodiles

Many confuse alligators for crocodiles and vice versa.

But there are a few key differences between these two reptile species.

Firstly, let’s address whether there are crocodiles in Lake Okeechobee.

Crocodiles are more common in coastal regions of Florida in saltwater and brackish water.

Their federal status is threatened,and they are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

It is very unlikely that you will find an American crocodile in Lake Okeechobee.

Here are the key differences:

(Video) Drone Video of Large Alligators in Lake Okeechobee

The American alligator is grayish-green, and its offspring are light with dark stripes.

Its snout is more narrow and tapered.

The fourth tooth on each side is visible when its jaw is closed.

The alligator can be found in freshwater environments, marshes, swamps, and lakes.

On the other hand, the crocodile is black, and its young are dark with yellow stripes.

It has a broad and round snout; when its jaw is closed, only the upper teeth are visible.

The crocodile lives in saltwater environments and brackish water in coastal regions of Florida.

3 Safety Tips for Swiming in Alligator-infestedWaters

  1. Do not allow children or animals to play or swim in alligator-infested waters or near the water’s edge.Alligators can not tell the difference between their food source and small animals. Alligators are opportunistic hunters who lie and wait for a food source to venture close enough. They are very fast swimmers and are lethal in the water.
  2. Keep your distance. If you know alligators are prone to certain areas, avoid swimming in these areas at all costs. It simply isn’t worth the risk. The last thing you do when you are out swimming and having a good time is to be alert. And being alert is exactlywhat you need to be in alligator-infested water.
  3. Never swim alone. Do not venture out and swim alone, especially in areas where alligators are known to live. Always swim in groups and avoid alligator-infested waters whenever possible.


Lake Okeechobee is known for having the most alligators in one area in all of Florida.

The lake has even been named the gator capital of Florida.

Besides having alligators, the lake is polluted by bacteria and other chemicals.

It’s a beautiful lake that offers visitors plenty of recreational activities but should be avoided as this lake has too many risks to health and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lake Okeechobee famous for?

The lake is known for fishing for Speckled Perch and Large Mouth Bass.

Thousands of anglers visit the lake each year, hoping to catch that one big fish.

Can you see across Lake Okeechobee?

No, you cannot see the other shore due to its size and width.

Do people live on Lake Okeechobee?

Yes, approximately 60,000 people live around the lake.

Additional Resources

  • Are There Alligators in South Carolina?
  • Are There Alligators in Lake Lanier?
  • Are There Alligators in Myrtle Beach?
  • Are There Alligators in New York?
  • Are There Alligators in California?
  • Are There Alligators in Mexico?


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