© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Alligators in Virginia?


Another sign of global warming could make Virginians especially nervous.  That's because alligators have been spotted perilously close to the state line. 

The Great Dismal Swamp is a 126,000 acre preserve that straddles Virginia’s border with North Carolina.  It’s linked all the way to Florida by the Intracoastal Waterway, and a senior biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says alligators are moving north.

“Used to be about 60 miles south of us.  Now they’re probably within 15-20 miles of our southern border.”

That may unnerve many state residents, but Don Schwab isn’t worried.

“We’ve had a lot of alligators throughout the state in weird places -- actually been in sewers in Norfolk.”

He says plenty of Virginians who had baby alligators as pets decided to free them once the animals got too big or too hungry.

“When you have to start feeding them poodles, it gets expensive.”

Experts say alligators are unlikely to flourish this far north, as their eggs must be kept fairly warm, and spring in Virginia can still be too cool for an alligator’s comfort. 

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief