Alligators and crocodiles are some of the most aggressive animals on the planet. They can be as long as 20 feet and can weigh over 1000 lbs!!
Trying to control or manage an alligator alone is almost always a death sentence, and they can still be EXTREMELY dangerous with a team of equipped and experienced handlers backing you up.
So why would you want to have one as a pet?
Maybe you’re an experienced pet owner who has raised several smaller lizards, and you’re looking for more of a challenge, or, you might just be curious about what it’s like to keep one of these amazing animals in your home.
Whatever the case, alligators don’t always make the best pets.
Even veteran breeders often warn potential owners that alligators are very dangerous to keep in homes, should only be kept with proper guidance, abundant space, proper safety equipment, plenty of free time, and a deep passion for owning dangerous pets.
We’ve put together the pros and cons of having a pet alligator…, and although the list of pros might be short – we’ll still list a couple of things you might want to consider if you truly wish to keep a pet alligator.
Pros of Having a Pet Alligator
1- A Lifelong Experience
If you’ve decided to potentially dedicate your life to alligators and lizards – you should first consider getting some ‘hands-on’ experience in the field.
You might not get a position in a Zoo or with a veterinarian… but you could potentially find employment in an alligator farm or you could help out with another owner for a short time. If you can care for these animals for years, the experience alone might open a couple of doors for you in the future.
2- Bragging Rights
Keeping one or more alligators as a pet gives you some pretty serious bragging rights
It may not be a significant benefit per se, but some people might respect you for your expertise over these exotic and dangerous animals.
3- You might just make a good boy out of it
While most alligators don’t mind preying on humans, some of them learn to get along. And we have two shining examples backing this claim.
An alligator that goes by the name ‘Wally‘ turns out to be an emotional support animal for his rescuer, Joie Henney. Wally was a little over a year old when he was brought home by Joie. As Joie recalls, he was dealing with acute depression at that time and found emotional support in his new pet. Anxious and defensive initially, Wally learned to take hugs and kisses and became domesticated eventually. People from far and wide would come to see Wally and take pictures of him from up close without fearing the deadly bite.
Wally shares home with other two rescued gators, named Hope and Luna, who are relatively young and are still trying to make sense of the human world around them.
Tagged as stealthy predators, not all alligators like to clench their jaws around a prey. One such gator that demonstrates charming amiability lives in the precinct of a Hindu temple in India. Babiya, the gator, thrives on a vegetarian diet which mainly includes cooked rice and jaggery, fed to him by the local priest and devotees visiting the temple from far-flung places.
If this doesn’t encourage you to pet an alligator, we don’t know what will.
Cons of Having a Pet Alligator
Unlike the short list of pros, there are far more downsides to keeping an alligator as a pet. Mostly related to the risks and hazards that arise while handling these animals, and their expensive requirements.
1- Aggressive Behavior
Alligators are aggressive by nature and never develop a sense of ‘friendship’ with their owners. If they’re hungry, angry, or even just a little ‘bothed’, there is a big chance they might chase you down and try to hurt you.
Moreover, due to their vast size and weight, there’s a high risk that any injury by an alligator could be fatal.
2 – Expenses
You have to account for food, an expert veterinarian, and all the gear you need to handle your alligator – which can add up to a small fortune.
Their appetites are voracious and they only eat other smaller vertebrates, like frozen rodents and birds, which gets expensive quickly.
3 – Enclosure Requirements
These animals require a substantial investment in their habitat to keep them, and yourself, safe.
Alligators require a large enclosure of half water areas and half grassy areas where they can roam.
If you live in a cold environment or somewhere with drastic seasonal changes, you’ll also have to install a heating or cooling unit to maintain a stable temperature all year long.
4 – Medical Needs
You can’t just take your alligator to your local veterinarian. You’ll have to find a vet who is an alligator expert to tend your pet.
Finding a certified veterinarian that can assist you with your pet alligator can be difficult, and typically not cheap.
5 – Legality
Keeping alligators in captivity is illegal in most countries. The countries that do allow owners to keep one might require complicity with several safety measures and legal requirements before granting a permit.
You Still Want an Alligator?
If you’re keen and set on getting a pet alligator, your first step would be asking the local authorities if keeping these animals is allowed in your country or region. Inquire about any specific permit you’ll need.
Once that’s out of the way, you might want to consider getting a Dwarf Caiman (Cuvier’s dwarf caiman) instead of a standard alligator.
Their much smaller (a maximum of 4.6ft and 15lb when fully grown) which makes them much more manageable. Plus, they look and behave exactly the same as their larger cousins.
However, the fact that they’re much smaller doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy or cheap pet. They’re still aggressive animals that require plenty of experience to handle and a significant investment to keep them healthy. Any small mistake when handling them can result in a visit to the emergency room.
Alligators aren’t the easiest pets to keep in your home as a pet, but there are still dozens of owners all over the world that love their ‘dinosaur’ animals and have great experiences with them.
Ask a local expert for better advice specific to your region as these exotic animals are quite dangerous in inexperienced hands.
What do you think about pet alligators? Do you know anyone near you who keeps one? Would you keep one in your home? Let us know in the comments.