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Largest alligator ever found in Louisiana

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key point

  • The largest alligator found in Louisiana was a giant 19-foot-2-inch alligator.
  • The American alligator is not endangered and is much larger, typically between 11 and 16 feet in length.
  • Historically, there have been many other reports of 20-foot alligators in the United States.

Louisiana is a diverse state bordering the Gulf of Mexico. While Louisiana is rich in highlands, it also has an alluvial region formed by the Mississippi River. There are many marshes and wetlands within the alluvial zone, which are perfect habitats for many different animals. Among these animals are crocodiles.

Incredibly, there are approximately 2 million people in Louisiana alone – the most populous state in the entire United States. Since alligators live in freshwater habitats, wetland areas are the main areas where they thrive. In fact, some thrive so well that they reach incredible lengths! But how big are they?

Join us as we explore the largest alligator ever seen in Louisiana!

Crocodile cubs in their nest
Not all crocodiles build nests to lay their eggs. Some simply lay their eggs in grassy areas near water.


about crocodile

Alligators are large reptiles from the family Alligatoridae , which includes all alligators and caimans. They are dark olive brown with a white belly, but juveniles have a yellow belly.

Alligators are native to China, the United States, and Mexico. There are currently two extant species – the Chinese alligator and the Chinese alligator.

The alligator is the smaller of the two — only 5 to 7 feet long — and is critically endangered. The American alligator is not endangered and is much larger, typically between 11 and 16 feet in length. Males are larger than females, and size generally correlates with age, with the oldest males being the largest.

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Young alligator sunbathing on a rock
The juvenile alligator was 7 feet long and weighed about 100 pounds as an adult.

© Andy Crocker/Shutterstock.com

Alligators are territorial and typically live in freshwater environments such as swamps, swamps, ponds, lakes and rivers, where they create "crocodile holes." The holes create new habitats for animals and help increase plant growth and diversity.

This makes crocodiles very important to the ecosystem. Alligators are also much more hardy than crocodiles. Alligators can survive in icy water for days by sticking their noses out of the water while their bodies are dormant. This is called a bruise.

Despite their large size, alligators are able to move quickly over short distances in "bursts," which is useful when they are hunting. Prey are usually in ambush near the water's edge. Smaller animals are caught and swallowed immediately, while larger prey are often dragged into the water and drowned.

While alligators eat a wide variety of prey, their diet often depends on their age and size. Younger, smaller crocodiles eat mostly fish, insects, and crustaceans before moving on to larger prey. Adult alligators eat everything from turtles, fish and birds all the way to deer.

Largest alligator ever found in Louisiana

Largest alligator found in Louisiana was 19 feet 2 inches
Although unconfirmed, the largest alligator in Louisiana was 19 feet 2 inches long!

© Thierry Eidenweil/Shutterstock.com

The largest alligator found in Louisiana was a giant 19-foot-2-inch alligator. Although it was not weighed, it is estimated to weigh about 2,000 pounds. Despite its size, the giant is not actually on official record, as the claim cannot be verified. Edward "Ned" McElhenney killed this gigantic male on Marsh Island in January 1890.

McIlhenny was hunting geese in Repulse Bay when he encountered the giant partially lying in the water. The crocodile was dying from old age and exposure to the cold air, so he shot it. McElhenney and two friends returned the next day to try to drag it out of the water.

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They couldn't move the animal due to its size and the swamp pulling it down. Instead, they measured it and left it where it was.

Due to the lack of physical evidence, many scientists are skeptical about the actual size of the crocodile.

Are there other alligators that come close to 20 feet?

American Alligator vs American Alligator
Louisiana has the largest population of alligators in the United States, and they thrive in wetland habitats.

©iStock.com/Bradley Proxmire

Historically, there have been many other reports of 20-foot alligators in the United States. However, all lack sufficient evidence to substantiate this claim. Still, when it comes to the largest alligators, McIlhenny's giant still tops the list, and there are still some other fairly large alligators caught in Louisiana.

In 2013, a 13-foot-4, 760-pound alligator was captured by alligator hunter Jim White in West Baton Rouge. The alligator was so heavy he had to use a tractor to pull it out of the water. At the time it was actually heavier than the heaviest alligator caught on the Mississippi River (727 pounds).

Also in 2013, a 13-foot-5, 900-pound whopper appeared in Louisiana. Nicknamed the Monster of the Swamp, this alligator's capture was actually documented on the TV show Swamp People . It was captured by mother-daughter duo Liz and Jessica Cavalier, and remains one of the show's biggest captures ever.

However, there are plenty of large alligators outside of Louisiana as well. A 17ft 5in alligator has been hunted in Florida's Everglades National Park and is one of the longest. One of the heaviest alligators ever recorded was a 13-foot-3 alligator in Arkansas that weighed 1,380 pounds.

The largest crocodile ever
Deinosaurs , a prehistoric member of the crocodile superfamily, grew up to 35 feet long and had a bite force of 100,000 Newtons.

© Daderot/CC0 1.0 – License

Were ancient crocodiles bigger?

And if the thought of a 19-foot crocodile isn't creepy enough, meet the Deinosaur – a 35-foot prehistoric crocodile. Deinocrocodilians are a genus of Crocodiidea , a close relative of modern alligators.

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These fearsome beasts lived during the Cretaceous period between 82 and 73 million years ago. Fossil remains have been found in 10 US states so far — including Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina. Deinosaurs are thought to live in brackish waters in and around estuaries.

Despite looking similar to the alligators we know today, Deinosaurs were much larger. It had a broad skull and thick, strong teeth suited to crushing rather than piercing its prey. While the saltwater crocodile possesses the largest bite force (16,460 Newtons) of any animal alive today, the bite force of the Deinosaur is estimated to be as high as 100,000 Newtons!

Given their impressive size and formidable teeth, it's no surprise that they were found to be top predators of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals — and likely were.

Crocodile vs Alligator
Alligators are smaller, darker and less aggressive than alligators.

© AZ-Animals.com

Who would win: Alligator vs Alligator

These two aggressive animals are often confused, but they do have a lot of differences. Alligators are generally small, averaging 400 to 800 pounds and a little over 11 feet in length. Alligators, on the other hand, can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and be 30 feet long!

Although alligators are faster on land and in water, alligators' size, bite strength, and sheer aggression give them an advantage that alligators cannot overcome. Additionally, the crocodile's keen senses and longer lifespan would almost certainly have given it the strength it needed to outwit crocs. Finally, while alligators attack when they feel threatened but tend to flee when faced with uncertainty, crocodiles are highly territorial creatures that attack without much provocation.

While the largest alligators found in Louisiana are good opponents for alligators, matching the size and weight of alligators here, on average, alligators are likely to win the fight.


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