Alligators are reptiles of the order Crocodylia, which includes three families: Alligatoridae (alligators and caimans), Crocodylidae (crocodiles), and Gavialidae (gharial or gavial). The alligator/caiman family consists of the American alligator of North America, the Chinese alligator of China, and five or six species of caimans from South and Central America.
There are three species from two families of Crocodylia in North America. Two are native to the US: the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). Crocodiles exist in the brackish coastal waters of Southern Florida in small numbers and are fully protected. Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, their numbers in Florida have gone from a few hundred in the 1970s to an estimated 2,000 today. They also exist on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern Mexico to South America and in the brackish waters of various Caribbean islands. None are open to hunting.
Alligators are unique to North America and exist only in the brackish coastal areas and freshwater wetlands of the southeastern US. Once endangered, the alligator is now abundant. Thanks to conservation efforts and wildlife management, alligators are listed as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN and are huntable in North America.
Caimans, native to southern Mexico and Central America (as well as South America) were introduced to South Florida by pet owners who released unwanted caimans into the ecosystem. They are considered a non-native invasive species and have been found in localized areas in Dade and Broward counties despite efforts to extirpate them. They are not listed in Florida’s game species open to hunting.
See the listing below and follow the links for more information on hunting techniques and what you should expect when pursuing this quarry.