No, alligators are not native to Hawaii. One thing you don’t have to worry about when touring the Hawaiian 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. Local authorities and the natives want to protect their ecosystem at all costs, so they are quite selective when it comes to the kind of species that live on the archipelago.
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 via ocean currents – which is not possible as these creatures are quite large and heavy – or they would have to be brought in by people.
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.
However, in the 1980s, Hawaiian authorities found the carcass of a caiman they had been trying to capture and in another instance a second alligator.
How these animals got to the islands is a mystery, but there’s a possible explanation: someone brought them into Hawaii 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.
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Could Alligators Live In Hawaii?
They could, but the government wouldn’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.
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.
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
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 but 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
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 on 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.