No matter how much you might admire these ancient creatures, finding an alligator or a crocodile in your pond can be a frightening experience.
I think it can even be more frightening when you’re not sure whether there is an actual gator or crocodile in your pond, or it’s your own wild imagination.
So, if you do have a pond, and you live in an area where these animals reside then you should know how to tell if there is an alligator or crocodile in your pond, but how?
Alligators and crocodiles enjoy sunbathing, so, you are likely to spot large indentations or grooves on the shoreline of your pond. Listen for hissing and look for sliding marks where the alligator or crocodile could’ve reentered the water, but avoid looking for them during dusk and dawn since that’s when they’re most active.
If you want to find out more about the telltale signs that a large reptile is living in your pond, how to deal with this situation, and how to possibly prevent it then keep on reading!
Do Alligators and Crocodiles Live in Ponds?
If you’re wondering whether an alligator or a crocodile can get into your pond that is located on your private property then the answer is yes. If your pond is actually large enough to contain an animal of their size then this body of fresh water could easily become their permanent home.
But before you start looking for an alligator or a crocodile in your private pond it’s important to figure out whether these giant reptilians live in your area.
Alligators don’t just live anywhere in the world. Aside from the Chinese alligator that can be as the name suggests found in China, the American alligator is mostly found in the freshwaters of southeastern America.
Crocodiles on the other hand can be found in many places across the world, like Africa, Australia, Asia, and Central and North America. Unlike the gators, crocodiles can live in brackish (slightly salty) waters, not just freshwater. That being said, most crocodiles prefer lakes, rivers, and wetlands as their primary habitat, and you can also find them in ponds.
How to Tell if There Is an Alligator or Crocodile in Your Pond
If you live in Florida where both alligators and crocodiles reside then it can be difficult to make out whether the new resident of your pond is actually a gator or a crocodile, or even a caiman for that matter!
The truth is these animals don’t look that different to the untrained eye. The most obvious difference is their size, where mature crocodiles are usually much larger than alligators, the first is 23 feet long (6.5 m) and the latter is 10-15 feet long (3 – 4.5 m).
Both the alligator and crocodile can be found in your backyard pond, your local swamp, or even your swimming pool for that matter. That’s why I would advise you to look up the alligator and crocodile populations in your area and see if one or the other is closer to your property.
With experience, you can learn how to spot an alligator in your pond, whether that’s seeing the sliding marks and grooves along the shoreline, or the hissing sound they make when you’re close by.
If you live in Florida the safest thing you can do is to always assume an alligator or even a crocodile are present and act accordingly.
How to Spot an Alligator in the Water
Most Floridians, or people that live in areas where alligators are prevalent, will tell you that they can spot these animals from miles away. From the type of bubbles they make when they’re underwater, to the location of their nests.
But if you’re someone who hasn’t developed an eye for alligator or crocodile habitats then unless the body of water is clear like a swimming pool then you are probably not going to spot these animals easily.
So, what should you look for?
Look For Markings on the Shore
You will have to look at the muddy shoreline of your pond to find the first and obvious signs that an alligator or a crocodile for that matter has entered your pond.
Since the alligator bellies are so low that they touch the ground, you should be able to see large indentations where this animal or animals walked on the bank, or laid sunbathing. You are also likely to spot sliding marks in the areas where the alligator has re-entered the pond’s water.
Check the Shallow Waters
While you search along the water’s edge make sure you’re not actually close to the water because alligators usually lurk in the shallow waters of ponds, hidden between overgrown vegetation.
You might notice irregularities in the water which could mean that the alligator is swimming under the water, but once you do it might be too late. So, to keep yourself safe from any sudden attacks it’s best to keep your distance and even seize the investigation and call the wildlife services in your area.
While you might find a nest in these shallow waters that proves your initial suspicions you are also putting yourself in further danger because alligators can be extremely vicious when they are protecting their offspring.
Listen For Hissing
If you were oblivious to the fact that an alligator was residing in your pond and you suddenly heard a hissing noise then make sure to get away from the pond.
You can clearly hear the warning sound in this video:
So, make sure to avoid any possible confrontation and call animal services instead!
How to Spot a Crocodile in the Water
Similarly to the Alligator, if you see markings on the bank of your pond, a mound nest in the shallow waters and the shoreline, or the hissing sound mentioned above then these are the most obvious signs that there is a crocodile living in your pond.
You might not know whether it’s actually an alligator or a crocodile until you actually take a good look at the animal, but it’s best to avoid confronting it no matter which one it is.
Both alligators and crocodiles can be dangerous, but crocodiles are much larger and more aggressive. So, you should not test your luck!
What Should You Do if an Alligator Is in Your Pond?
I do want to start by saying that if you suspect that there is an alligator living in your property’s pond then it’s not a good idea to go out and look for them or set up traps that might be illegal in your state.
While there are certain telltale signs that these animals might be using your pond as their new home, you should make sure that you’re keeping your distance from the shoreline or the shallow waters.
Despite their size, alligators have the uncanny ability to become one with their habitat, and having scaly green, brown, or grey skin means that they can often be mistaken for a rocky surface or a log.
While both gators and crocodiles love sleeping under the sun, they also lie under cover of the water across the shallow waters, concealed by the reeds and wild vegetation. That’s because these are ambush predators, and if you are close enough then they won’t hesitate to attack you.
Even though their legs are short alligators are pretty fast, and even though humans can outrun an alligator it can be challenging if you’re older, have a disability, or simply panic and freeze. So, if you have even the slightest suspicion that a large reptile has moved into your pond, you need to call professional alligator removal services.
This is the safest approach, for you, your family, and the animal itself. If it turns out that your pond is alligator and crocodile free then such services can still be very helpful by giving you tips on how to prevent these animals from entering your pond.
How to Prevent an Alligator From Getting in Your Pond
Whether you just removed an alligator from your pond, or you are worried that you will one day encounter an alligator there, it’s important to take some measures and make sure that these animals will not set foot on your property.
Eliminate Alligator Attractants
Alligators aren’t necessarily that picky when it comes to their home as long as it’s a fresh body of water that is large enough to contain them then they can be found basically anywhere.
That being said, you can still make your pond a less attractive residence by clearing out the wild vegetation, around the shoreline, and getting rid of all the reeds, and anything else that they can use as a place to camouflage themselves or build a nest.
Make sure your pond remains as clear as possible and while a little bit of algae or discoloration is normal, by keeping up your pond clean from debris it’s less likely that an alligator chooses that place as their home.
Speaking of clean, if you intend on fishing in your pond then make sure you leave the shoreline clean after you’re done. Any parts left behind or tossed back into the pond can smell very attractive to the alligator.
This brings me to our next attractant, food. You need to also make sure you’re not feeding the local birds, as well as the turtles or fish that might be living in your pond. This will encourage an alligator to come and potentially stay in your pond unless you remove their food supply.
Similarly, you should make sure your pets don’t come near the pond because alligators can mistake dogs and cats for prey and this can also serve as an attraction.
Install a Safety Fence
If the size of your pond allows it and you have the budget for it I would definitely recommend installing a fence around the body of water.
The fence should also be high enough, and deep enough otherwise, an alligator could climb over it, or it could dig under it and enter the pond anyway. You could also install an electric fence or you could install an underwater fence that rises up to the height of the water or above.
Don’t Feed the Alligator
While I did already mention the importance of removing the food supply, I think it’s important to emphasize the fact that feeding alligators is wrong and it’s also illegal.
According to the University of Florida “when humans feed alligators, it causes the alligators to lose their natural fear of humans and to associate humans with food.”
So, whether you’re discarding fish entrails into the pond, you don’t clear out your trash, or you’re actively feeding the gator, you are inviting this animal into your pond, and even your yard, which is really dangerous.
Professional Alligator Removal Services
You can take the above precautions to keep the alligator from entering your pond, but if you want more advice on the matter or you think an alligator managed to inhabit your pond after all, then make sure to call your local professional alligator or wildlife removal services.
Don’t try to trap or remove the alligator yourself because you are more likely to end up hurting yourself or the animal. So, let the professionals deal with it!
If you live in an area where alligators and crocodiles reside then don’t be surprised to find one living in your pond.
Usually sliding marks and large grooves across the pond’s bank are the two main signs to look for when you want to figure out if there is an alligator or a crocodile residing in your pond.
These animals could’ve lived in the pond before you even bought your property or they could’ve moved into it years later because they found the place safe, especially if it felt like a suitable area to make their nest.
No matter what the reason might be, it’s important to call professional alligator removal services, so they can do the investigation themselves, remove the creature if need be, and advise you on how to prevent this from ever happening again!