Gator Country

David Grann meets Susan Orlean in this page-turning true story of an underground operation into the mysterious world of alligator poaching and its larger than life Floridian characters

To catch a Florida Man, you have to become one, and that’s what Officer Jeff Babauta did. As his ponytailed, whiskey-soaked alter ego, he established Sunshine Alligator Farm. His goal? Infiltrate the shady world of illegal poachers in the Florida Everglades in order to protect the natural world.

A head-spinning adventure soon unfolds. Jeff deals with glow-in-the-dark alligators and high-speed airboat rides, but quickly learns that not all poachers are villains. They’re simply people trying to survive, fighting against the poverty and greed holding them down. Jeff wants to solve the mystery of alligator poachers, and in doing so he must venture deeper into a strange ecosystem where right is wrong, and justice comes at the cost of those who’ve welcomed him into their world.

Gator Country is the twisting true story of the impossible choices individuals must make to stay afloat in this world. Through its wholly unique blend of reporting, nature writing, and personal narrative, this book transports readers to vibrant and dangerous Florida landscapes and offers intimate portraits of those who call the region home. Broad in scope and vivid in detail,  Gator Country is a fast paced tale of the risks people will take to survive in one of the world’s most beautiful yet formidable landscapes and the undercover investigation that threatens to topple the whole scheme.

gator country book cover

Beautifully evoking the ‘sawgrass plains and wild strands of jungle’ of its author’s home state, this tale of power, politics, and tradition is a triumph

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Renner’s passion for her home state, compassion for those less fortunate, and gift of storytelling make this book difficult to put down. Enlightening and full of suspense.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

An astounding story about an alligator-poaching operation in the Florida Everglades… [Renner’s propulsive narrative reads as suspensefully as a well-wrought mystery novel.

Kathleen Gerard

Shelf Awareness

Brims with energy, confidence, and all the hallmarks of a true-life thriller.

Adam Chandler

author of Drive-Thru Dreams 

Rebecca Renner takes us deep into the Florida swamps where an undercover agent chases a ring of alligator poachers. 

Murray Carpenter

author of Caffeinated

A deep dive into the fascinatingly blurry line that can exist between poachers and conservationist. operating in our own backyards.

Rachel Nuwer 

author of  Poached

[A] Fascinating blend of true-crime and science reporting. Renner’s Gator Country delivers all the suspense and subterfuge of a le Carré novel. It’ll even make you love alligators.

Erika Krouse

author of Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation

This astonishing book moves as fast as a hungry gator slicing through the water. Renner spins an incredible only-in-Florida true-crime tale that is a MUST READ.

Craig Pittman

author of Oh! Florida