Editor’s Note: The alligator moved into the wild on its own, Texas Parks and Wildlife told KXAN. This story has been updated with new information.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A scaley visitor was spotted in Central Texas this week.
A gator was found in a ditch Monday near La Grange in Fayette County, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. It was spotted on FM 2145 near Citzler Road.
“The rain has definitely washed in some things you don’t see every day in Fayette County!” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook.
The reptile left before officers or Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens arrived. The gator moved along into the wild on its own, a TPWD spokesperson said.
How common are gators in Texas?
Alligators have lived in Texas marshes, swamps, rivers and lakes for centuries, according to TPWD. Today, gators are found along the southern U.S., including the eastern third of Texas. They are found in or near water—typically fresh but sometimes brackish.
The reptile’s peak breeding and nesting season is from March 1 to May 30, TPWD said. From mid-October to March, they brumate, similar to hibernation.
A TPWD spokesperson said alligators are active now due to increased rainfall and seasonal mating behaviors. The department gets an influx of calls every spring, but the number of calls decreases in the summer as gator movements decrease in hotter weather. Most reports do not end in the removal of a gator.
When TPWD responds to “nuisance alligators,” they are rarely moved to a different location in the wild, according to TPWD.
“Alligators have remarkable homing instincts and are able to return to the point of capture, even after relocation many miles away,” the spokesperson said.
There’s been a few interesting Texas gator sightings in recent years. Last year, a 7.5-foot gator was found on South Padre Island and moved to a wildlife refuge. Also in 2022, a baby gator was found under a Midland County car. In 2016, the state’s largest gator, measuring 14 feet in length, was caught in Champion Lake, just east of Houston.
Gators were given complete species protection in 1969 in Texas, two years after they were listed as endangered after market hunting and loss of habitat increased.
TPWD said gators were removed from the endangered species list in 1985 after about 15 years of protection.