Monday, June 24, 2013

Episode 167 (6-24-13): American Alligator

Click to listen to episode (2:24).


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 24, 2013.
This week we feature another mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 20 seconds, and see if you can identify the low growl.  And here’s a hint: If you saw one of these, you might say, “See you LATER!”


If you guessed an alligator, you’re right!  The American Alligator is found in all kinds of freshwater habitats—from swamps to old rice fields to large rivers— in the Atlantic and Gulf coast states from the Carolinas to Texas, as well as in parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Alligators’ known native range did not include Virginia, but that range did include North Carolina’s part of the Dismal Swamp, just below the Virginia border.  While some people believe wild alligators may reach the Commonwealth from North Carolina, or that they may eventually increase their range in a warmer climate, the current occasional Virginia sightings or captures are generally presumed to result from accidental or intentional release of animals kept as pets.  It’s illegal to import, possess, or sell alligators in Virginia without a special state permit.  They’re fascinating reptiles, best viewed from a distance in their native habitats.  Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for permission to use this week’s sound.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 6/2413]

Alligator at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, February 2009.  Photo by Steve Hillebrand, made available for public use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at, accessed 6-24-13.

Acknowledgments: Alligator sounds were recorded in Georgia in 2000 and were taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “National Digital Library” (public domain sounds) at  Alligator sounds and information were included previously in Virginia Water Radio Episode 42 (week of 11-15-10), now archived.

Sources and More Information:
*Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, by B.S. Martof et. al., University of North Carolina Press/Chapel Hill (1980);
*Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Richmond (1999);
*Davidson College (North Carolina) Herpetology Lab, “Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina,” online at;
*University of Florida Cooperative Extension, “Living with Alligators: A Florida Reality,” at; and
*U.S. Geological Survey Web site at;
*Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Nongame Fish, Reptile, Amphibian and Aquatic Invertebrate Regulations,” online at; and “Species Information: Reptiles,” online at;
*Virginia Herpetological Society, online at

For the debate over whether wild or nesting alligators are currently in Virginia or will eventually be here:

*River Mud, “No Alligators in Virginia,” 5/25/10 blog post, online at (see also later, related posts); and
*, “Alligators in Your Backyard,” by Jackson Landers, 2/19/13.

For examples of other alligator sightings in Virginia:
*“N.C. officials warn: Stay away from alligators,” Virginian-Pilot, 6/16/12; and

*“Alligators relocate in area waters,” Washington Times, 5/24/05.

Recent Virginia Water News and Other Information
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