In Michigan, there are certain animals you expect to see on a fairly regular basis. But, every once in a while, locals might spot a creature that will have them saying, "Did I really just see that?"

Over the years there have been a few of these types of animal sights. Here are at least 4:


1. Alligator 

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Via/Youtube
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If you've kept up with the news over the past few days, you may have heard about an apparent alligator sighting behind Albion College along the Kalamazoo River. The sightings apparently happened around the same time on Saturday, July 9th, and were reported by two separate individuals. The Whitehouse Nature Center, at Albion College, closed on Sunday out of an abundance of caution. The sightings are still being investigated. Now, as a former Floridian, I would like to say a big "HA!" to everyone who told me that the lakes/rivers were safe from things like alligators and that I shouldn't be worried about them. If you're wondering how an alligator made its way into the Kalamazoo River, same here. Most likely, the gator, which was reportedly four or five feet long, may have been a pet that became too large to handle and was then released. We'll have to wait and see.

Want to take this alleged sighting to teach your kids about alligators? This quick video from Nat Geo Kids explains the difference between alligators and crocodiles:

2. Bears

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Via/Youtube
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Are bears common in Michigan? Yes. At least up north. However, spotting them in the lower peninsula, especially in SW Michigan, is much rarer. Yet, it has happened. In the Facebook group Neighbors and Residents of Three Rivers, a member named Janalee B. shared two photos of what looks like a relatively large black bear. In the comments, Shantel M. shared an additional photo of, perhaps, the same bear:

While most bears are seen in Michigan's UP, they have started to make their way into the southern part of Michigan, according to michigan.gov.

Should you encounter one in the wild, even in SW Michigan, this guy has some tips on what you should do:

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3. Cougars 

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mhong84
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Another animal that's mostly been spotted in the UP, cougars (or as they're sometimes called panthers) have been spotted in the lower peninsula. At least once.

In 2017, a photo of a cougar in Clinton County was verified by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Up until that point, the cats had never been seen in lower Michigan. They don't know where it came from or if it moved on after it was spotted:

Rest assured, though, that seeing these animals in the lower peninsula is extremely rare. If you're in the UP, however, you might actually run into one. The DNR actively tracks cougar sightings and lists them by area and by year. See the full list here.

4. Wallabies 

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Via/Youtube
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Much like the above-mentioned alligator, this was a case of a wild/exotic animal being kept as a pet. But, back in 2016, Animal Control in St. Joseph county received a call that probably sounded like a joke...someone had spotted kangaroos in a backyard. When authorities investigated, they discovered that these animals did exist but were in fact wallabies, not kangaroos. Regardless, it's good that someone called the authorities. Unfortunately, about 20 exotic animals were found to be living in unsafe conditions in a singular rural home. The man who owned the home was arrested. Read more here.

While they are similar, there are a few major differences between kangaroos and wallabies. Learn more below:

BONUS: Bigfoot 

Bigfoot Outdoors
Chris Rogers
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Apparently, Bigfoot was just spotted in Shelby Township last month (June 2022). The article, which you can read here, claims that a resident captured the mysterious creature on her home surveillance and yet, no images or videos were shared with the public. However, police did label it a "bigfoot sighting" so, perhaps bigfoot existing in Michigan is finally official...?

It's hardly the first time people have claimed to see Bigfoot in the state of Michgian. One woman claims to have encountered it several times over the course of 10 years:

Maybe he does exist. *cue the theme song from X-files*


To me, the alligator is the most surprising on this list. That is...if it was actually an alligator that was spotted in the Kalamazoo River. I'm holding out hope that it was a fast-moving log.

You know what else is surprising? The animals that you're legally allowed to own in the mitten state:

9 Animals That Are, Surprisingly, Legal to Own in Michigan

Unique and Interesting Mailboxes in Michigan

Here are just a few of the splendidly special mailboxes spotted across Michigan