How to legally own an pet alligator

Updated February 21, 2017

While the prospect of keeping an alligator as a pet may be exciting to some, in the real world, it's a very risky proposition, with many areas not only prohibiting legal ownership but also making it a felony if you're caught with an unregistered animal. In order to own a pet alligator legally, you must invest time and money to ensure that the reptile cannot escape, making the safety of the surrounding community your top priority.

Contact the state's wildlife authority to find out whether or not you can legally own a pet alligator in the area. It is forbidden to own a pet alligator in most jurisdictions, and exotic pet permits are often only granted to experienced reptile handlers with existing facilities.

Design a proper enclosure for your pet alligator that will not only keep it from getting out, but will also keep intruders from gaining entry. It only takes one curious teenager to cause a tragedy and a string of lawsuits. The enclosure should be sturdy enough to resist damage from a giant, powerful and aggressive reptile.

Purchase a pet alligator from a reputable breeder, preferably one who has handled and tamed the reptile since it was a baby. This usually results in a calmer, more predictable animal. Never try to capture an alligator from the wild, which is illegal in most states.

Avoid taking your safety for granted when you legally own a pet alligator. Even the smallest bite from an adult alligator can kill you if it is delivered in the right spot. An alligator will never bond with you or be a faithful companion.

Allow the local wildlife authorities full access to your alligator's habitat at all times. Frequent inspections by experienced personnel can help prevent the animal's escape and monitor your alligator's welfare.


Alligators can grow quite quickly and unexpectedly as they mature, especially if you feed them on a regular basis. Be prepared to expand your pet alligator's habitat according to its size.


Never release an alligator into the wild if it has been raised in captivity, unless you have the supervision and guidance of the local wildlife authority. Your pet alligator may be doomed, as it has likely lost its fear of humans and may not be able to interact well with other alligators. A zoo might be your best alternative.

Things You'll Need

  • Secure enclosure
  • Exotic reptile permit
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