Alligator Sightings at Lake Anna? Here are the facts.

October 8, 2023
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Lake Anna, a renowned destination for fishing, swimming, boating, and camping, has long been shrouded in the enigma of alligators. The persistent question lingers: Does Lake Anna truly harbor alligators? While there have been historical accounts of alligator sightings, it’s worth noting that no recent reports have emerged in over half a decade. What exactly is the story behind these elusive reptiles, if they were indeed present, and what has become of them?

This exquisite 13,000-acre freshwater reservoir spans Louisa, Orange, and Spotsylvania counties and was created by the North Anna Dam in 1972. The initial estimate was a three-year period to fill the lake, but due to the fortuitous rainfall from Hurricane Agnes, it reached capacity in a mere 18 months.

The First Glimpse of an Alligator at Lake Anna The inaugural encounter with a colossal reptilian creature near the Lake Anna nuclear power station, owned by the Virginia Electric and Power Company, occurred in 1978. This sighting was reported by a pair of visitors accompanied by a local fishing guide.

Though undocumented and unverified with photographs, the fishing guide was cited in the New York Times as saying, “I know an alligator when I see one, and I wasn’t interested in fishing for one. We left.”

While Lake Anna’s waters are warm enough to sustain alligator activity during the summer, the harsh Virginia winters would make it challenging for them to survive. Experts suggest that alligators are improbable residents this far north, as their eggs require consistent warmth, and Virginia’s spring temperatures can still be too chilly for alligator comfort.

Alligators Advancing Northward in Virginia In a report by WVTF radio in 2014, Don Schwab from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disclosed that alligators were gradually moving northward and had been spotted near the Virginia border in the Great Dismal Swamp, a sanctuary linked to Florida’s Intracoastal Waterways.

“We’ve had a lot of alligators throughout the state in weird places — actually been in sewers in Norfolk,” Schwab reported to WVTF radio. He also said that there have been plenty of Virginias who had baby alligators as pets who could have been freed or gotten loose when they got too big… but not to be worried since their eggs need to be kept warm and it simply gets too cold in Virginia.

According to an article in the Richmond Times, the presence of an alligator in the lake wouldn’t have been a complete surprise. When the lake was established in the 1970s, it was stocked with young bass and other fish by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The potential existence of an alligator could be attributed to Virginia residents who kept exotic wildlife and released them into nearby waters when they became unmanageable.

So, the lingering question remains: Do alligators inhabit Lake Anna, or is it simply a mystery of the past? As of now, there are no confirmed alligators in the lake. Nevertheless, if one were to be discovered, the Virginia Division of Gaming Inland Fisheries would be prepared to investigate and, if necessary, remove it.


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Lake Anna, a renowned destination for fishing, swimming, boating, and camping, has long been shrouded in the enigma of alligators. The persistent question lingers: Does Lake Anna truly harbor alligators? While there have been historical accounts of alligator sightings, it’s worth noting that no recent reports have emerged in over half a decade. What exactly is the story behind these elusive reptiles, if they were indeed present, and what has become of them?

This exquisite 13,000-acre freshwater reservoir spans Louisa, Orange, and Spotsylvania counties and was created by the North Anna Dam in 1972. The initial estimate was a three-year period to fill the lake, but due to the fortuitous rainfall from Hurricane Agnes, it reached capacity in a mere 18 months.

The First Glimpse of an Alligator at Lake Anna The inaugural encounter with a colossal reptilian creature near the Lake Anna nuclear power station, owned by the Virginia Electric and Power Company, occurred in 1978. This sighting was reported by a pair of visitors accompanied by a local fishing guide.

Though undocumented and unverified with photographs, the fishing guide was cited in the New York Times as saying, “I know an alligator when I see one, and I wasn’t interested in fishing for one. We left.”

While Lake Anna’s waters are warm enough to sustain alligator activity during the summer, the harsh Virginia winters would make it challenging for them to survive. Experts suggest that alligators are improbable residents this far north, as their eggs require consistent warmth, and Virginia’s spring temperatures can still be too chilly for alligator comfort.

Alligators Advancing Northward in Virginia In a report by WVTF radio in 2014, Don Schwab from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disclosed that alligators were gradually moving northward and had been spotted near the Virginia border in the Great Dismal Swamp, a sanctuary linked to Florida’s Intracoastal Waterways.

“We’ve had a lot of alligators throughout the state in weird places — actually been in sewers in Norfolk,” Schwab reported to WVTF radio. He also said that there have been plenty of Virginias who had baby alligators as pets who could have been freed or gotten loose when they got too big… but not to be worried since their eggs need to be kept warm and it simply gets too cold in Virginia.

According to an article in the Richmond Times, the presence of an alligator in the lake wouldn’t have been a complete surprise. When the lake was established in the 1970s, it was stocked with young bass and other fish by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The potential existence of an alligator could be attributed to Virginia residents who kept exotic wildlife and released them into nearby waters when they became unmanageable.

So, the lingering question remains: Do alligators inhabit Lake Anna, or is it simply a mystery of the past? As of now, there are no confirmed alligators in the lake. Nevertheless, if one were to be discovered, the Virginia Division of Gaming Inland Fisheries would be prepared to investigate and, if necessary, remove it.


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