Chicago, IL

Alligator Spotted on Lake Michigan Beach Monday

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Small alligator unexpectedly surfaces on Lake Michigan's shores

An extraordinary sighting took place on the shores of Lake Michigan when an unexpected guest, a small alligator, made an appearance. The local Police Department was quick to identify the reptile, and the incident sparked interest and intrigue.

The revelation of the alligator's presence came through a Facebook post from the department, which reported the unusual occurrence. The reptile was spotted on the Lake Michigan Beach in Grant Park, prompting both curiosity and questions about how it ended up in this particular location.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides insight into the typical range of alligators, which spans from coastal North Carolina to southern Florida, extending westward through the Deep South to central Texas and southeastern Oklahoma. While these are their primary habitats, alligators occasionally appear in unexpected places.

Illinois, for instance, has witnessed multiple indigenous occurrences of alligator sightings from 2005 to 2019. One of the more famous cases involved a pet alligator discovered in Chicago's Humboldt Park Lagoon, affectionately named "Chance the Snapper." In another instance, a notable reptile known as "Chonkosaurus," a giant snapping turtle, garnered attention in the city, even though it is native to the area.

The city of Waukegan experienced an unusual encounter in 2018 when a four-foot alligator was found swimming in Lake Michigan. Rescuing this creature was a joint effort involving Waukegan Police Animal Control and staff from Larsen Marine Service, Inc. (LMS). The alligator was transported to the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest. Notably, there was some initial confusion regarding the reptile's identity, with authorities first believing it was a caiman before confirming it as an alligator.

While these sightings are unconventional, alligators in Michigan are not entirely unheard of, with annual reports of their presence. Additionally, other states surrounding the Great Lakes, such as Indiana and Pennsylvania, have also recorded numerous sightings.

The mystery remains regarding how this particular alligator found its way to Lake Michigan's shores. As the curiosity surrounding this unexpected guest continues, it serves as a reminder of the diverse and sometimes surprising encounters with wildlife that can occur in unexpected locations.

In a related note, the famous Chicago alligator, "Chance the Snapper," recently had a visit from Frank "Alligator" Robb at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, rekindling memories of the captivating story that unfolded in the city.

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