The Challenges Of Having Pet Alligators
Pet alligators are not for everyone. Just looking at a fully grown one should convince most that there are plenty of other animals out there that would be more suitable as pets, especially if you are looking for a loyal and affectionate companion. Alligators may be loyal as long as they are well fed, but affectionate they are not.
We have a tendency to humanize our pets, especially when they are dogs or cats and we spend a great deal of time talking to them. We give our pets names, which eventually seem to fit them completely, as if they understood the name and are attempting to act the part. Pet alligators named "Al" or "Alley Gator" aren't going to grow up to be fun loving comic strip characters. They are reptiles who can't always tell you're hand from the food your holding, and who are not known for doing tricks or having any sense of humor whatever.
There isn't a lot of expertise out there regarding pet alligators either. Most of those who sell them, sell baby alligators. Baby alligators can be entertaining for a while, and might even border on being charming while they are still under a foot long. But while many people may have some experience in dealing with baby pet alligators, there are few who have any experience with 10 or 12 foot pet alligators. In other words, as your pet grows, you'll be increasingly more and more on your own as far as help and advice are concerned.
Degrees Of Friendliness - Some fall for the argument that alligators are the tamer members of the crocodilian family. This is true. It's also true that a crocodile would probably be the worst choice for a pet that one could make. Crocodiles are very aggressive creatures, ones you could never really be safe in approaching. Alligators on the other hand sometimes border on being timid, and will often move away if a human approaches. The argument then is the alligator is much easier to handle than is the crocodile, and is "friendlier". This is true. It's also true that the alligator is also friendlier than T-Rex would have been. “Friendlier” however is a relative term, and does not necessarily translate into friendly. The closest pet alligators come to being friendly is being tolerant, or not being particularly hungry.
Pet alligators, if given proper care and have an acceptable habitat to live in, can eventually grow in to 15 foot monsters that can outrun a horse (and a human) for short distances, and do significant damage with either teeth or tail. Buying a baby alligator with the intent of eventually releasing it when it gets larger isn't a good idea either. As big as they are, alligators do have an instinctive fear of humans (crocodiles do not). A pet alligator released into the wild will generally have lost that fear, and can be just as dangerous as a grizzly bear who has become accustomed to and lost respect for humans.
If You Still Want A Pet Alligator - If you insist on having a pet alligator as an exotic pet, and live where it is legal to do so, at least make certain you have learned all you can about the animal, how to care for it, and how to interact with it. You will probably never be able to tame the animal. At best you can train it to keep calm in your presence, and even that may take some time. Just don't mistake calmness for a belief that your pet “Al” likes you. It probably doesn't, or could care less about you as long as you feed it, and it will never get to the point where you, or your hand or arm, is no longer looked upon as a potential food item. An alligator will bite the hand that feeds it, and is quite capable of killing the goose that lays the golden egg.