Summertime is ‘Gator Time
Now that the calendar tells us it’s officially summer, here are some of our favorite stories about alligators, those amphibious reptiles of the South that are most active in the next few months.
Hard to Swallow
You think you’ve had a bad case of indigestion or heartburn?
Judging from the stomach contents of the 13-foot nuisance alligator trapped and killed May 21 from Jarvis Creek Park on South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, the big reptile must have had a major-league tummy ache.
When trappers opened the gator’s stomach, they found a soccer ball, two baseballs, one tennis ball and two other “semi-digested” balls.
And that was just the beginning.
They also discovered 53 fishing lures, a half-pound of lead sinkers, two turtles, a beer can and 48 rocks.
Oh, and don’t forget 4-foot alligator.
It’s not unusual to find to find a gator digesting in a larger one’s stomach, said professional trapper Mark Carinus.
“People don’t understand that this gator could not be relocated,” Carinus told The Island Packet newspaper. “It would eat any smaller gator. It snapped up the soccer ball at the water’s edge and it could easily snatch a dog or a small child.”
Dead ‘Gator, Biting
OK, so Florida fisherman Benjamin Hodges knew there are designated alligator hunting seasons and that permits are needed to pursue and shoot the amphibious reptile in The Sunshine State. But he didn’t figure there was anything wrong with loading a 5-foot specimen into an abandoned shopping cart, rolling it down the street to his apartment building, and commence butchering the critter on the ground.
After all, it was already dead when he pulled it from the Hillsborough River.
“I didn’t think there was anything illegal about skinning a dead gator,” Hodges told the Tampa Bay Tribune.
Unfortunately for Hodges, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission begged to differ.
As a result, Hodges was arrested for illegal possession of a protected species and had to post $2,000 bail.
The fishing was slow and Hodges said he became curious when the motionless alligator floated nearby. With no fish action, Hodges began to think how cool it would be to have an authentic gator-skin belt, one that he made himself.
“I wasn’t catching any fish,” he said. “(I thought) ‘You know what? Maybe I can go home and try to skin it.’”
A group of inquisitive neighborhood children surrounded Hodges and the gator carcass at the edge of his walkway when the police arrived, predictably spoiling the would-be leather-crafter’s big plans to create a fashion accessory from the animal’s scaly exterior.
The illegal killing or possession of an alligator is considered a felony in Florida and is punishable by up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.
Gator Under Truck Keeps Occupants at Bay
After colliding with a 10-foot alligator in the early morning darkness, two women delivering newspapers in Fort Meade, Florida remained trapped while the injured reptile rocked and swayed their small pickup truck for a nerve-wracking 30 minutes before they were rescued.
Jennifer Maldonado and Aimee Baker started to exit their Chevy S-10 after the 4 a.m. collision deployed the vehicle’s air bag—only to discover the gator wedged beneath the undercarriage.
And the gator wasn’t too pleased about its predicament, either.
The women quickly closed the doors of their truck, phoned 911, and waited—parked in the middle of the highway--for 30 minutes before authorities arrived.
In the interim, the wounded gator thrashed and growled just inches below the two panicked women, shaking the body of the little truck and generally scaring the dickens out of the two 20-something women.
“It was grunting and roaring and shaking the whole truck,” said Ms. Maldonado, who was delivering the Tampa Tribune while accompanied by her friend.
As they waited for help, the women told the Tribune that traffic drove around them, while one good Samaritan stopped, advising them they were doing the right thing by remaining inside their vehicle.
Responding emergency workers safely led the women away from the scene and backed the truck over the animal.
It was later captured and destroyed, according the Florida Fish and Game Commission.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” Baker said.