Have you heard about our alligator?
About 2 weeks ago an actual alligator was caught in Big Muskego Lake and transported to HAWS. While not the kind of "stray" we usually see, it wasn't completely unheard of here. Exotics have their own fans, but most homes and people don't have the right housing for an animal that starts as small as 8" and can grow and grow and grow. This particular 'gator was about 3 years of age and had already grown to at least 3 ft. - hard to keep THAT in an aquarium.
So where did it come from? No, it isn't a native species - no need to add that to your list of worries. And most assuredly it wouldn't have lasted the winter if not caught as it was. He was pretty healthy when he got to HAWS, but already getting chilled from our cooler September temps. So most likely Mr. Gator hadn't been in the lake too very long.
We'll never know exactly how he got into the lake, but we can guess.
Our friends at the U of Illinois and Greater Chicago Herpetological Society tell us that they fish about 100 or so alligators out of the Chicago River and area waterways. Most often these are pets that were purchased as babies - under 12" and not even weighing a pound - by someone who thought it "would be cool to have a pet that no one else has." Well, there's a reason no one else them as pets: they aren't a domestic creature, and unless you live in a zoo or have vast experience with exotics, chances are you don't have the environment or means to meet their needs.
So what happens to the "cool" pet when it gets too big? It gets dumped to fend for itself. Bad idea.
This guy lucked out - our U of I friends will transport him to a southern state and more appropriate habitat. He's gone home.
But let this be an educational moment:
(1) Do your homework before getting ANY pet - really understand what you're getting in to!
(1a) Adopt from HAWS - we've got a great selection of adoptable pets and lots of resources and helpful people to make your relationship with your pet a long-term success.
(2) If you can't keep your pet, call someone - like US at HAWS - rather than just letting your pet go. We're here to help and we've got lots of friends and resources, too!
By the way - HAWS Homecoming is October 16th - get your tickets today! And you don't have to attend our event to buy raffle tickets for our Big Game TV raffle - tickets are available at HAWS today. For only $20 you'll get a chance to win a 42" LG flat screen TV. Now THAT'S a game worth playing!