MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Alligators are now living in the Memphis area, and state wildlife officials say more of the river reptiles are slowly moving our way.
Thousands are commenting after the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency personnel recently captured a seven-foot alligator on video in the Wolf River Wildlife Management Area in Fayette County.
They say it's just the latest of several confirmed sightings of alligators in Southwest Tennessee.
According to TWRA, alligators normally live in states further south, but are naturally migrating into Tennessee. TWRA says it has not stocked any alligators in the state.
"Alligators migrating into Tennessee is just another species that we must learn to coexist with like many of the other southern states," the agency said.
Alligators eat fish, turtles, snakes, frogs, and waterfowl and occasionally will feed on larger animals such as possums, raccoons, and deer.
They can survive Tennessee winters by going into hibernation, and can withstand periods of ice by sticking their snout out of the water before it freezes, which allows them to continue breathing, TWRA said.
If you spot an alligator, wildlife experts just ask that you keep your distance.
"They're not going to hurt you. The only ones that bother people really are the ones in Florida where people are feeding them everyday," Sgt. Ty Inmon, with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said.
TWRA says alligators are a protected species and catching or shooting one is against the law, so if you see one, leave it alone.
The Wolf River flows into Shelby County and Memphis before emptying into the Mississippi River in Downtown Memphis.