Monster gator in Florida

Readers Michael (and contributor Matthew Cobb) sent a video of a monster American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) crossing a path near Tampa, Florida. It was estimated to be 13-15 feet long, but they can get up to 20 feet.

As you can imagine, it’s gone viral on social media.


  1. Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    The folks on the ground taking pictures might be candidates for a Darwin Award.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Too true, they can really run. I would have been out of there no messing.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        I would have stayed, transfixed by the awesome splendor. I don’t think they are very dangerous on land, at a bit of distance.

        • Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          Same here with the “awesome splendor.” Why I should never be near a tsunami. I would be watching to see.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      I know – I don’t understand why they weren’t running away screaming & crying like I would be.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        That might have attracted the beast’s attention, which the non-screaming and non-running crowds pointedly weren’t doing.
        There’s something to the story that isn’t being mentioned. In the video, people are clearly stopping and waiting, some distance from the path of the animal. I read that behaviour as meaning that the humans had some prior knowledge of where the animal was going to walk.
        I’d hypothesise that the alligator was walking along one path (why beat your own path through the vegetation if some food species has already done the job for you?) and the photographers had moved onto a crossing path.
        (translation of alligator-ese “food species” into human-ese : “anything not a lot bigger than me.”)

    • John Conoboy
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      A gator that size can’t run very fast and a person could easily outrun it. And gators rarely chase people unless you are disturbing their nest, feeding, or molesting them. Generally not recommend to get closer than around 15 feet from one. In the water, they can swim much faster than a person.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        Not sure about gators of 15′ but gators in general can move considerably faster on land than the typical human, for short distances.

        I have witnessed with my own eyes a 10′-12′ gator charge out of the water about 30′ and snatch a dog. The dog was surprised but saw the gator as soon as it began to move. The gator was fast enough that the dog didn’t have enough time, from a standing start, to get away.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    It looks fake to me.

    • Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I believe the consensus is that it is real. There was another big one wandering a golf course in mid-2016, and snopes give it a True.

    • busterggi
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Definately some forced perspective at least, some funky focusing in that video.

      BTW, does that path look like its maybe only six or so feet wide at most back where the people are standing?

    • Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      More details:

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I lived in Tampa for a couple years when I clerked for a federal judge there years ago. Used to wake up some mornings to find a gator doing laps in the backyard pool. Nothing like this behemoth, though.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Looks as fake as the crocodile that took Capt. Hook’s hand in Peter Pan.

    • Posted January 18, 2017 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      Wow, that’s what I call “close to nature”!

      • busterggi
        Posted January 18, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Why heck, I have tiny raptors at my feeders all the time.

  4. rickflick
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Wikipedia reports:

    ” The largest reported individual size was a male killed in 1890 on Marsh Island, Louisiana, and reportedly measured at 5.8 m (19 ft) in length, but no voucher specimen was available, since the alligator was left on a muddy bank after having been measured due to having been too massive to relocate. If the size of this animal were correct, it would have weighed approximately 1,000 kg (2,200 lb)”

    From the image in the video, it’s pretty hard to estimate size. A telephoto lens naturally magnifies foreground objects. One should always remember to carry a tape measure on outings in the wild.

    • Carl
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      The 23 foot “Alligator” mentioned by the newscaster as alive in India today is no doubt a Salt Water Crocodile.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Yeah those salties are scary. Alligators and crocs really terrify me because they’ve lived a really long time on earth as a species so they must have some cunning we don’t know about 🙂 and also they can run fast on their hind legs and if you climb a tree they can wait underneath it for days.

        • nicky
          Posted January 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          The one you see is not to be feared that much, it’s the one you didn’t see…..
          Crocs are ambush hunters.

  5. Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I have friends who live in Florida, and it’s no big deal. They have learned to live with them, mostly. Especially golfers, another slow-moving species unless pressed into action.

  6. dogugotw
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    They can hit 30 mph for short stretches and climb fences. Here’s a video of a small gator going over a fence. OTOH, all you have to do is hold their mouth shut and they can’t bite you…OTOOH, that tail whips around pretty good too so, I guess one should maybe just stay the hell away from them!

  7. Diane G.
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Far out!

  8. Dan
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    i for one welcome our new crocodilian overlords.

  9. nicky
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I think Salties are the biggest crocodilians (they regularly reach 6m and more) that are dangerous to humans. The Indian giant could also have been a Mugger, also dangerous. They are specialists of the ‘high walk’.
    The biggest extant crocodilians are the Ganges Gharials, reaching 8m or more, but they are fish eaters and not considered (whether rightly so is another matter) dangerous to humans.
    Here in S.A. we have the Nile croc, regularly reaching 5m. They claim dozens of victims a year all over Africa.

    • nicky
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, that was meant as a comment at 4.

  10. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Nerdy comment warning!

    In parts of Florida there are both crocs & ‘gators – is it the norm to refer to both as ‘gators in Florida & which one are we seeing? [It’s Polk county if that helps]

    The woman talking about the 23′ Indian alligator [no such beast I don’t think] at 0:53 is probably referring to the 20’ 3″ croc caught in the Philippines in 2011 – it died a while back

    • Dave
      Posted January 18, 2017 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      This one is definitely an alligator. The American crocodile only occurs around the southern coastal tip of Florida. Polk County is inland, mid-Florida, far north of usual crocdile range. The croc also a longer, more slender snout than the beast in the video. You would never confuse the two if seen side by side.

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