Alligators Expanding Range, Confirmed in Tennessee

Alligators have expanded their range and are now confirmed to be living in west Tennessee, according to state wildlife officials.

Alligators Expanding Range, Confirmed in Tennessee

Alligators have expanded their range and are now confirmed to be living in west Tennessee, according to state wildlife officials.

The state's alligator population isn't large, but the big lizards have found the Volunteer State to be acceptable for residence. Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officials say they've confirmed the alligators' presence after multiple reports.

"There's probably single digits of alligators in the state and in West Tennessee, so it's highly unlikely that you'll encounter one," Matt Cameron with TWRA told Channel 5 in Nashville.

Alligators are found in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas — the three southern states closest to Tennessee. Georgia and North Carolina also have alligators but the big critters aren't moving through the mountains.

However, the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers along with myriad creeks and other tributaries give the gators easy travel routes. Alabama's alligators have been in the Tennessee River since the mid-1970s and are primarily found in the midpoint of the river near Decatur.

Cameron, the TWRA official, said they're not likely to migrate to east Tennessee. 

"It's highly unlikely that they will," said Cameron. "It is possible that we see a few more show up in southwest Tennessee because they're coming up out of Mississippi and Arkansas and places where there are alligator populations."

Alligators get through winter by going into a hibernation-like dormancy called brumation. 

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