What Dangerous Animals Are There In Lake Of The Ozarks?

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If you’re looking to visit Lake of the Ozarks anytime soon you might be worries about the dangerous animals that you’re likely to encounter in the area.

This was no small worry for myself the first time I went to the lake as I had two small children with me.

It turns out that there are several dangerous animals in and around the lake, but probably not the ones that everyone talks about and claims to have seen.

So what kinds of dangerous animals should you be on the lookout for when you visit the Lake of the Ozarks?

Well, let’s explore what people are most afraid of when they visit, starting with alligators.

Are There Alligators In Lake Of The Ozarks?

The simple answer is no, there are no alligators in the lake.

There have been no confirmed sightings of alligators at Lake of the Ozarks. In fact, the last reported sighting of an alligator in Missouri was in 2001, when a six-foot alligator was found dead in a pond in St. Louis County.

Alligators are native to the southeastern United States, and while they can survive in colder climates, they cannot survive in waters that freeze over. The Lake of the Ozarks is located in Missouri, which has a climate that is far too cold for alligators.

So, unless someone is bringing up alligators one by one in their trunk, you’re unlikely to see one at the lake.

Are There Piranhas In Lake Of The Ozarks?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about piranhas in Lake of the Ozarks and the answer to this one is a bit more nuanced.

First off, it’s unlikely that there are many piranhas inhabiting the lake. They’re not native to the area and none have officially been released. However, it’s possible that someone has released a piranha or two into the lake (even though it’s illegal to do so).

In fact, there have now been two piranhas caught out of the lake in the past several years.

Given their penchant for warm water, however, it’s unlikely that a colony of piranhas will be thriving anytime soon.

In other words, there’s no need to worry about your toes getting nibbled on by a piranha.

There are several fish in the lake that can cause injuries if not handled correctly but non of them have a taste for human flesh.

Are There Sharks In Lake Of The Ozarks?

There are many rumors about the presence of sharks in the Lake of the Ozarks. Some people claim to have seen them, while others insist that they are nothing more than a baseless legend. So, what is the truth? Are there sharks in the Lake of the Ozarks?

Well, the only sharks found in Lake of the Ozarks are those that have managed to swim up the Mississippi River (which is freshwater), hang a left into the Missouri once they’ve passed St. Louis, then another left in the Osage River.

From there it’s a simple matter of them swimming upstream to the Bagnell Dam and jumping over it (so they don’t get caught in the turbines).

In other words, there are no sharks in the Lake of the Ozarks that came from the ocean.

But did someone transplant sharks? Well, there’s no definitive way of ruling it out.

In 2008, a fisherman claimed to have caught a baby bull shark in the lake. Bull sharks are known to be able to live in both fresh and salt water, making them a potential candidate for the rumored Lake of the Ozarks sharks. In addition, there have been several reports of strange fins sighted in the lake over the years.

However, if you’re worried about sharks while swimming, you’re probably better off worrying about cramps.

Other Dangerous Animals In The Lake

Since we’re bereft of alligators, sharks, and piranhas, what is left in the lake that wants to take a chunk out of us?

Well, there are still a few things, all of them long and slithery.

Poisonous snakes, such as water moccasins and copperheads, are common in and around the lake. These snakes are often hidden in the tall grass and weeds near the shoreline, making them difficult to see.

If you’re shore fishing or playing around the edges of the lake with kids it’s good to keep an eye out.

Why Is The Lake Considered Dangerous?

The Lake of the Ozarks is considered dangerous for all the reasons you’d expect.

It’s a huge lake that’s full of boats and is incredibly popular with tourists, usually inebriated ones.

The leading cause of death at the lake has nothing to do with animal attacks but is actually drowning.

If you take proper precautions to prevent it (such as wearing a life jacket and not drinking while boating or swimming) then you’ll be able to enjoy your time at the lake worry-free.


If you were hoping to wrestle an alligator on your next trip to the lake I can imagine you’re incredibly disappointed. However, the rest of us can sun bathe easily knowing that encounters with a ferocious beast is not very likely.

If you’re visiting the lake just be sure to bring your comment sense with you and you’re sure to have a safe and amazing time!