The claim: Image shows an alligator in a flooded Florida home following Hurricane Ian
Photos and videos from Florida – or purported to be from Florida – have dominated social media since Hurricane Ian hit on Sept. 28.
One image shared on Facebook claims to show an alligator swimming through a flooded Florida house.
"My dawg in Florida sent me this n said he woke up and came downstairs the gator was looking at him just like this (sic)," reads the Sept. 29 post's caption. "I would of died!"
The post has been shared more than 70,000 times on Facebook.
But the image is a digital fabrication that also predates the recent hurricane and depicts a crocodile, not an alligator.
USA TODAY reached out to several users who shared the post for comment.
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Image was shared in 2020
While Florida has a population of 1.3 million alligators, that's not what this picture shows.
The viral image was shared on a comedy thread on Reddit in 2020, more than a year before Hurricane Ian struck Florida. It also went viral when Bengaluru, India, flooded in September. Several media outlets debunked it then, too.
As noted by the Associated Press, the crocodile in the image matches an image published by the Daily Mail in 2014 of a crocodile in Australia. The crocodile has one eye open and one eye closed, just like the one in the Facebook post. The ridges on the crocodile's back and the angle of its tail are also the same.
John Brueggen, director of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm on Florida’s eastern coast, said this is a crocodile, not an alligator, and nothing that would be found in Florida as the post claims.
"It is definitely not an animal from the wilds of Florida," he said in an email.
Siwei Lyu, a digital forensics expert at the University of Buffalo, said in an email there is a "high likelihood" the photo is altered. He believes it was edited with Photoshop. The legs of the chair have a wavy shape, which Lyu said indicates the ripples in the water were added to the image.
Our rating: Altered
Based on our research, we rate ALTERED an image purporting to show an alligator in a flooded home in Florida following Hurricane Ian. The image is a digital fabrication.
Our fact-check sources:
Siwei Lyu, Oct. 4-6, Email exchange with USA TODAY
John Brueggen, Oct. 6, Email exchange with USA TODAY
USA TODAY, Oct. 3, Hurricane Ian updates: Some Floridians face another week without power
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, accessed Oct. 4, Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida
Associated Press, Oct. 3, Photo altered to add Australian croc to flooded home
Daily Mail, Aug. 7, 2014, Brutus the giant croc who was pictured eating a bull shark is a star
MetroSaga, Sept. 6, Fact Check: Crocodile Swimming In Waterlogged Streets In Bengaluru
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Altered image of crocodile in flooded home circulates