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Are There Alligators In Hawaii? (All You Need To Know!)

Are There Alligators In Hawaii? (All You Need To Know!)

Are there Alligators in Hawaii? No, alligators are not native to Hawaii. One thing you don’t have to worry about when touring the Hawaii islands is alligators, or crocodiles, for that matter.

There are several reasons for this, and one is that Hawaii has a very particular kind of ecosystem, which is quite fragile. The government and the natives want to protect their ecosystem at all costs, so they are selective when it comes to the kind of species that live on the Hawaiian Islands.

However, even though alligators and crocodiles pose no danger to tourists visiting Hawaii, there are many other dangerous species you should look out for. 

Why Aren’t There Alligators In Hawaii?

There are several reasons for this. The main one is the vulnerability of Hawaii’s ecosystem. As a result, the country doesn’t allow any introduction of predators. Besides, there isn’t any practical way for alligators or crocodiles to get here.

If these reptiles were to get to the islands, they either have to float to the islands on ocean currents – which is not possible as these creatures are quite large and heavy – or they would have to be brought in by people. A few reef species got to the islands by drifting here on ocean debris, but it’s a surprise they didn’t die on the way. There’s no way that alligators can achieve this, owing to their rather heavy physical structure.

Humans wouldn’t bring alligators or crocodiles to the islands, mainly because it is illegal, but more importantly, these predators wouldn’t serve any purpose aboard a ship. In the 1980s, however, the Hawaiian authorities found the carcass of a caiman, an alligator, in a reservoir; they had been trying to capture the animal but failed, and later, there was a call informing them that the animal had been killed. The authorities also found a second alligator in another instance, which was already dead.

How these alligators got to the islands is a mystery, but there’s an explanation for it: someone brought them when they were small and kept the animals in an aquarium, but when they got too large to be contained, they were released into the wild.

You might also like: Does Hawaii have Snakes?

Can Alligators Live in Hawaii?

They could, but they won’t as the government won’t allow them to live on the islands. Alligators and crocodiles are top predators, and they also pose a threat to humans. If they were to live on the islands, they might hunt down other species to extinction. The Hawaiian ecosystem is fragile as it is, and the islands wouldn’t want to further endanger the ecosystem by allowing large predators to live here.

Does Hawaii Import Alligators?

No. But in 2021, there was a Facebook post claiming that the country was planning to import saltwater crocodiles to wade off the reported shark attacks. It further stated that the government was planning to import 174 crocodiles and that they would be protected and free to live in the Hawaiian freshwater and saltwater reservoirs. But it turns out there isn’t any truth to the claim. So no, the Hawaiian government won’t be importing any crocodiles or alligators.

Is There A Connection Between Shark Attacks In Hawaii And The Lack of Alligators?

It is true that Hawaii reports a high number of shark attacks, both fatal and non-fatal. The main reason is that the shark habitat in Hawaii is connected to the tourist swimming areas – this is not to say that that there’s a 100% chance of you getting attacked by sharks if you decide to swim in the ocean here; there are guidelines to follow, and safe spots pointed out for tourists.

As for the connection between shark attacks and Hawaii not having any alligators, there’s none. If Hawaii decided to release alligators into the ocean in hopes of preventing shark attacks, first off, it won’t work as alligators and crocodiles are no match for the aggressive white sharks and tiger sharks, and second off, alligators pose a bigger threat to humans than sharks, so it wouldn’t be a sound idea.

Do Hawaiians Eat Alligator Meat?

Alligator Meat

Alligator meat is consumed by humans – especially in Thailand, Australia, some states of the United States, and South Africa. In fact, alligator meat is one of the favourite meats among exotic meat-eaters, and it is often likened to chicken.

In Hawaii, however, it is hard to come by, but the exotic meat market sells alligator meat along with several other types of meat. Hawaiians don’t eat alligator meat as a rule; it is not a staple dish, but you can assume that there are Hawaiians with a taste for alligator meat.

The Ideal Habitat For Alligators, And Can Hawaii Facilitate It?

The ideal habitat for alligators and crocodiles is freshwater reservoirs. Saltwater alligators and crocodiles can survive in the seawater for a few hours, but these animals are semi-aquatic and need to access land to look for food – while they can go on without food for an extended period of time, they still need land and sun rays. 

So yes, Hawaii has the ideal habitat for alligators, but they won’t be allowed to live here as they pose a massive impact on the ecosystem. 

You might also be interested in Ecosystems of Hawaii

What Does Not Having Alligators Mean For The Hawaiian Natural World?

It means that plant life and other animal species can thrive. Every time a new species is introduced to the Hawaiian ecosystem, there’s a disruption. Alligators can mean inevitable harm to other species – like it was with wallabies, which were introduced a century ago and a beetle called coffee borer beetle; the beetle caused a menace by infesting coffee farms.

Snakes like the boa constrictor are another example that can explain why alligators aren’t suited to the Hawaiian natural world.

Where To Find an Alligator in Hawaii – Hawaii Zoo

Honalulu Zoo Sign

The Honolulu Zoo shelters many native and non-native species, and alligators are among them. The American Alligator is quite the spectacle at the Honolulu Zoo. They can grow up to 12 feet in length and can weigh about 1,200 pounds; also, these alligators look a bit like crocodiles, with their broad snout.

There was another large alligator named Goliath at the zoo; it died in 2015, having lived in Hawaii for about sixty years. The alligator was brought to the country in 1953; Goliath is also believed to be the oldest alligator that lived in captivity.

Dangerous Animals To Lookout For When in Hawaii

Giant Centipede

While alligators are no threat to tourists visiting Hawaii, there are other animals you need to stay away from. Tiger sharks and white sharks are the most dangerous, and swimmers need to be extremely careful, especially when swimming in Maui.

The moray eel is another aquatic animal that’s quite dangerous; they are not fatally dangerous, but they tend to bite anyone who invades their habitat, and the bite can cause muscle damage.

The giant scolopendra centipede, the brown recluse spider, box jellyfish, and cone snails are a few other species that can turn your vacation into a nightmare, so make sure you follow safety guidelines.