Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crocodiles in Texas?

Yoshihiko and Atsuko Mukoyama
(Image from Baylor Magazine)

My copy of Baylor Magazine arrived yesterday featuring a story by Lane Murphy about Yoshihiko Mukoyama, professor of English in Japan and expert on Robert Browning who studied for his doctorate at Baylor and remained there until shortly after my arrival as a freshman in 1975, though I didn't know of him at that time.

Mukoyama chose Baylor because of the stories of Texas told by his Uncle Kisaku Kitsuta:
The young Mukoyama was fascinated by Kitsuta's tales from Texas, in which he described hunting and fishing in wide open spaces.

"As a foreign national he was not permitted to carry a gun, so he hired someone to carry it," says Mukoyama. "Dr. Kitsuta said he especially enjoyed hunting crocodiles."
Eh? Crocodiles in Texas? I wasn't aware of any crocodiles in Texas. Mukoyama found none either:
"When I came to Waco, I wanted to see the crocodiles, but I could find none in the Brazos River," he says.
So . . . was his Uncle Kisaku speaking of alligators rather than crocodiles? -- not that any alligators are to be found in the Brazos, either.

Can crocodiles actually be found in Texas?

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At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might be surprised. I saw on TV the other night that an eight foot long gator had been captured in the Black River by the Arkansas Game and Fish people.

Still, the report said they were wondering how the heck it happened to be where it was.

Then again, I don't recall seeing armadillos (in Arkansas) until I returned from the Navy.


At 7:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'm not surprised by alligators in the southern states (though one in the Black River is a bit far north for my comfort), but I'd be truly surprised by crocodiles in Texas.

However, I've been surprised more than once in my life.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:26 AM, Blogger Sperwer said...

You'll appreciate that when my wife forst went to the US, she accepted an offer of admission to The University of Chicago because she was under the misapprehension that it was in the "Midwest" and that she would be in Little House on the Prairie country. Being quickly disabuse of that notion upon arrival at O'Hare, she quickly arranged to transfer out and, on such short notice, ended up at U. Minnesota M/St. Paul. That turned out not to be very appearing because as the sole Korean female on a campus with a significant number of male Korean grad students, she was told in no uncertain terms that she was expected to take care of everyone's laundry and fix them Korean meals 2-3 times a week. Since that was precisely the sort of bullshit she was determined to escape, she transferred again to the Duluth campus, where she was let alone but for the locals who wondered if she was Vietnamese, Hmong or Meo. This was in the late '80s.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What a series of misadventures!

I think that I recall you reciting these in a drinking session last summer, but I had forgotten the details and appreciate having my faulty memory refreshed.

I suppose that your wife didn't see any crocodiles . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:36 PM, Blogger John B said...

USGS (link found through Wikipedia) claims that alligators range into western Texas. Crocodiles, apparently not, as afar as Wikipedia knows. The Mexican crocodile seems to come closest.

I ran a Lexis-Nexis search and the only results for Texas crocodiles were prehistoric fossils.

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Prehistoric, eh? Perhaps the good doctor visited Texas in the Jurassic Era and confused a Tex Rex with a crocodile?

As for alligators, I'd wager that the article meant eastern Texas.

Thanks for the information, by the way.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that alligators, not crocodiles, were native to the US and found the same links as you, John B. There is a small population of crocodiles in south Florida, where the water is always warm. I wonder if the crocs in south Florida descended from escaped or released animals, like Burmese pythons.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I seem to recall seeing a small spot on a map of Florida where crocs live, the one exception to the general truth that crocs don't live the US. I think that they're native there.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There aren't any crocodiles in the wild in Texas. However there are lots of Alligators in Texas. They go as far NW as the Dallas-Fort Worth area and live all throughout east Texas. And yes they do live in the Brazos River. Go to Brazos Bend State Park sometime. I saw 40 there one day in a span of about 2 hours.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for the details. I'm surprised to learn that alligators live as far north as Dallas! I attended Baylor for four years and didn't see any, but I'd think twice now before hanging around the Brazos banks.

How do the gators survive the winter cold, for even in Waco, the winters can get very chilly?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:24 AM, Blogger Forrest Charnock said...

Alligators are like rats in Texas. From the Louisiana border to a ways west of Houston they are everywhere within 75 miles of the coast , some farther.
In the mating season you will encounter them very close to Houston . Galveston bay near Kemah was a prime spot to find them in the brackish water of the upper bay . One of the prime spots is Oyster Creek which runs from Sugar land west of Houston all the way to Alligator Lake between Surfside and Galveston including Lake Jackson Texas.The Trinity River east of Houston is full of them.
People coming down to visit did not believe me until I showed them, we even named one giant gator {approx 14"} Henry that chased off the speckled trout at Oyster Creek in the city of Oyster Creek often when we fished there. I suspect Henry and the supposed 20 + foot gator caught from Oyster Creek west of Lake Jackson are one and the same. The 20" was an exaggeration but Henry was an honest 14 or more , close to the world record caught from the Trinity.
For decades the California Parks and Wildlife denied there were any Sea Lions left despite thousands of reports to the contrary until finally they admitted they lied to try and protect them from poachers. In Texas they deny there are any wolves in East Texas but anyone familiar with the Piney Woods knows there are. There are Ocelot and Lynx in the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge and very few know this but there were , and I suspect still are ,a few American Crocodiles in the Brazoria Wildlife refuge.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, FC, for the detailed information. I'm from the Ozarks, so I know that a lot of animals are still around where they're said not to be.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:18 PM, Blogger Rc cool said...

No Crocs in Texas.It gets too cold in Texas.In Florida when they have a hard freeze it kills many crocs but it's rare.In Texas it freezes every year in most places.So,crocs wouldn't survive here in Texas.The American crocodile is the type of croc in South Florida. They are native to that area and are found all the way to Venezuela .Alligators are found in North,Northeast ,Southeast ,South and parts of Central Texas.As long as you don't feed them,bother them or swim from dawn to dusk.You should be alright.Place that you know big ones exist .Don't walk by shore,with small children or pets !!

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, RCC, for the confirmation! I gather alligators are hardier than crocs.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:53 PM, Blogger Rc cool said...

Yep, but I would rather be in the water with gators ! :) I have been in the water with both.When I a gator over 7 foot.I usually get out of the water. During mating season is the worst time.Males are real mean then and at night is bad too! I went to college at Sam Houston State in East Texas and my family is from Omaha Texas on Northeast Texas.So,I have been around gators a lot.As I have gotten older at 53.Lets say I wouldn't take the risks I took when I was younger.Like night wade fishing for bass ! lmao I am now in my kayak with my yellow lab Chance.We try to stay in the boat most of the time! I haven seen crocs in Florida in my kayak too.They made me feel uneasy but left me alone! I have seen crocs in Panama,Costa Rica etc.. They get real big down in Central and South America. So, I give them plenty of distance! lol

At 8:32 AM, Blogger LadyRhinestone said...

You must be talking about what Texans call alligator "gars". Totally different than alligators in Florida where I come from.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

No, not I. We've got alligator "gars" in the Ozarks, so I know what they are. As for alligators themselves, they can be found in some southern parts of Arkansas, I'm told. But in Waco? In the Brazos? I never saw any.

Jeffery Hodges

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