For our MyGMRS members in Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas - A "Critter Alert"...
Wild alligators have been migrating north from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia for many years. The State Wildlife Departments in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri have confirmed breeding populations present in these somewhat cooler states. According to wildlife officials, even though alligators are cold blooded and can not regulate their internal body temperature without warming themselves in the sun, they can survive cool winters by going into a hibernation-like dormancy called brumation. They can withstand periods of ice by sticking their snout out of the water before it freezes, which allows them to continue breathing.
This is just a caution for our friends in states that are normally not thought of as having large reptiles present. Alligators up to 11 feet in length, weighing up to 600 pounds have been confirmed in wetland areas of these states.
Having personally encountered 'gators in Alabama, let me just add that if you do happen to encounter an alligator in the wild during the warmer months of the year, do not approach them. An alligator can move at close to 30 miles per hour for short periods of time. Female alligators protect their young viciously and are most aggressive in August and September. However, if humans enter their territory, they will protect their habitat. That makes us the specialty of the day on their dinner menu.