The scaly gator had happily parked himself in the cool shade of the front entrance. But his mood quickly changed when he felt a rope slide across his body.
Claws, teeth, and tail lashed out at everything in sight. Meanwhile, the family kept watch out their window and wondered how they would ever get out safely.
Florida man James had woken up like it was any other Saturday. He ate breakfast, planned an outing for the family, and got ready to leave.
But rather than be greeted by the beautiful Florida sunshine when he opened the front door, the father spat out the coffee he was still finishing when he saw what was waiting for him on the doorstep.
Staring up at him, with the coffee now dripping from its nose, was an enormous alligator. The giant reptile glared and bared his many teeth at the stupified dad.
But before James could collect himself to act and get the door closed, his wife came running down the stairs – and let out an almighty scream.
The gator was clearly startled by the ear-piercing screech and started thrashing around, knocking over plant pots and edging closer to the open doorway.
Suddenly, James’ instinct kicked in before the gator could scuttle into the house and slammed the door shut. James and his wife breathed a sigh of relief, but his encounter with the toothy villain was far from over.
Granted, alligators were very common in Florida, so it’s not like James and his wife had never seen one before. But they usually stay within clear or brackish water habitats.
It would take a significant threat to push it from the Everglades into a residential area, thought James, before noticing something very strange about the beast.
Aside from its size, the unwanted guest only had two limbs – one front arm and one back leg.
While this was one extra-feisty gator he didn’ want to mess with, James started to feel sorry for the creature, who was obviously having a very hard time with his disability. He had to do something.
But first of all, James had to consider the safety of his family, who were all cowering in the kitchen.
He couldn’t just get them out through the back door. Any path to the street would take them close to the front door and that simply wasn’t an option. The father-of-two would need to be smart about this if he was going to protect his family.
Shooing him away with broom handles certainly didn’t work and only left the father’s heart racing when the gator’s snapping jaws got too close.
This was one stubborn and aggressive guest. Realizing they were trapped inside the house, James looked at his nervous family. He had a difficult decision to make – and they were not going to like it one bit.
After two hours had passed with no sign of the intruder moving on from the family’s doorstep, James had no choice but to call off the family day trip.
But then he remembered, he was having a package delivered! The guy would normally leave it on the doorstep, but that simply wasn’t going to work today. Would James be able to come up with a way to warn him in time?
The thoughtful dad scribbled a quick note written in big enough letters to be seen from a distance.
He wasn’t prepared to try opening the front door again, so decided he would have to slip out the back alone and sneak round to pin it to the front of the house before running back around as fast as he could. That was the plan, anyway.
After slowly creeping to the side of the house, James peered around the corner to see if the coast was clear. And it most certainly was not.
The gator was still sat on the doorstep. And if the thing had lips, it would most certainly have been licking them. James slapped the note on the front of the house and didn’t stop running until he was safely back inside. At this point, James knew he couldn’t defeat the scaly beast alone.
James called Croc Encounters, an “educational facility dedicated to rescuing unwanted reptiles.”
Not only do they come to take care of “nuisance reptiles”, but they also run a large facility to house whatever can’t be released back into the wild. Would they be able to trap the particularly livid one currently smashing up James’ flower beds?
The experts packed their truck and left the sanctuary with the usual supplies, thinking that it would be like any other capture.
James’ terrified reaction over the phone didn’t faze them. It was a normal response. “Ol’ Two Foot” would also be a valuable addition to their educational tour. But they changed their tune when they arrived at the chaotic scene.
The first thing they saw were the limbs… then they saw the trail of destruction.
Two Foot had utterly trashed the front porch and everything on it. It only got worse when Croc Encounters tried to approach. He let out a long hiss when he saw the rope. The big guy made his intentions very clear.
The plan was to lead him out gently, using the rope as a guide. The animal experts flung the first line over.
But the gator growled menacingly and thrashed his tail against the splintered wood. They tried again and it took hold. It was a long, careful battle before they finally got him into their truck. And as for the leg injuries?
Male alligators can be VERY territorial. Croc Encounters said the missing limbs were probably the result of a fight with another male and a lucky escape.
Being unable to defend itself as well, it would try to wander into a place that was safer. But then there was the risk from human beings to consider.
It doesn’t help that alligator habitats in Florida are being altered or covered for sprawling residences or massive tourist attractions, which push the animals into urban areas more and more frequently.
There’s no mass take-over yet, but it’s enough that Floridians know basic gator safety. The most important one is to run away – and there’s a very good reason for that.
If you spot a gator looking at you, and it charges or comes closer, the rule is to run in a straight line as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
The animal is usually only aggressive if someone is too close to its nest, so it’s best to get out of there as quickly as you can. And you definitely don’t want to be deliberately encroaching on their habitat, because you’ll be seriously mismatched if one spots you.
Stay out of fresh and semi-salt water (basically everything except the ocean) if you’re in a reptile zone – especially when there have been clear warnings of alligators in the area.
To protect your property from unwanted gators (as if there are any other kinds), fences should be over four feet high because they are expert climbers and they’ll be on your doorstep in no time.
It’s important to know that these are not monsters though. They’re just another creature in the animal kingdom living their lives.
Once in a while, we might find them in an unexpected place (like James and his family did) but then it’s just a matter of calling the authorities. Thank you for taking care of him, Croc Encounters!