The report and photo of a huge alligator found recently in South Georgia has been making the rounds on the internet, prompting some to ask if it was real.
The viral photo of the 13-foot, 4-inch gator was not fake, says the Georgia DNR — wildlife biologist Brent Howze is even pictured with the behemoth — and it’s one of the heaviest ever reported in the state.
The gator, estimated at around 700 pounds, was found alive, but in poor condition, in an irrigation ditch near Lake Blackshear by a local farmer. The animal was still alive when it was found, and Howze estimated the animal had been in the ditch for as long as a week, which represented “very unusual behavior.”
“Once it was moved up to land, they noticed several wounds, some of which appeared to be old gunshot wounds,” DNR spokesperson Melissa Cummings said in an email to Game & Fish. “The animal was euthanized due to its poor condition.
”It is a testament to Georgia’s alligator management program that alligators can grow to this size.”
While the gator was huge by any standard, it’s not the longest or heaviest in Georgia history.
According to DNR records, the longest gator ever harvested during Georgia’s alligator hunting season (began in 2003) was 14-1 — out of Lake Walter F. George in 2015 (aka Lake Eufaula).
Records also show a gator taken during the 2011 season weighed 860 pounds — it also measured 13-4.
“Male alligators can grow up to 16 feet in length, although 14-footers are rare, and female alligators can grow up to 10 feet,” Cummings said.
Howze emphasized the only way a alligator can grow as large as the Blackshear find is by avoiding humans.
For more info on alligators in Georgia check out this fact sheet.