Acquired: Online breeder / seller,
Bred animal myself,
Worked with pet (didn’t own)
New York, United States
Posted Nov 04, 2015
Based upon a lifetime of working with alligators in zoos and the wild, my best advice to those who would like to keep the USA’s most formidable reptile as a pet is “do not”! While there’s no denying that they are highly intelligent, socially complex and able to respond (in some ways) to their keepers, alligators are fully capable of killing an adult, and indeed do so on occasion in the wild. They can in no way ever be considered “tame” or worthy of one’s trust, as might a domesticated mammal, and YouTube videos and such to the contrary should be ignored.
Of course, the practical considerations involved in keeping a giant, aquatic reptile in anything but an enclosed outdoor swamp will (or should!) dissuade most potential owners. Unfortunately, hatchlings that fit into 50 gallon aquariums are sold (illegally in many areas) very cheaply. Please do not be tempted – even on poor diets, they grow at astonishing rates, and no matter how special you might consider your pet to be, no zoo or nature center will accept one, and release is unethical and illegal, even within their range, due to the possibility of disease transmission, etc.
Alligators are quite easy to observe and study in many zoos and, from a safe distance, throughout much of the southeastern USA – please limit your gator interactions to those activities!