What appears to be a 7 to 8-foot alligator has been trapped in a storm water pipe since before Christmas in a Merritt Island neighborhood. Members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission attempted to free the alligator on Tues., Feb. 12, 2013. Photo courtesy Florida Today
MERRITT ISLAND, FL (Florida Today) -- Unlike the alligators of urban
legend that lurk in Manhattan's sewers, a real-life reptile took up
residence in a drain pipe in an otherwise quiet neighborhood near the
Ulamay Wildlife Sanctuary - belching menacing, rumbling hisses at
December, the alligator inhabited the grated end of a stormwater pipe
off Lakewood Circle. And nearby humans feared for the animal's health
WATCH: Alligator stuck in drain pipe
guesstimates of the gator's length ranged from 4 to 10 feet - only the
fearsome, scaly snout was typically visible, poking out of the pipe.
Whatever its length, the toothy reptile apparently was not happy with
its living situation.
actually raised his head and snapped at the grate," Dreama Justice said
of a Tuesday morning encounter during her daily walk.
"I'd hate to see him die in the neighborhood. Can you imagine how stressed he's got to be by now?"
later, the reptile was removed. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission officers used plastic piping to coax the 7-foot gator to
backpedal - "he wasn't at all happy about it," spokeswoman Joy Hill
described - and the beast was captured soon afterward.
The alligator was relocated to a St. Johns River marsh, Hill said.
Barb Venuto was relieved by the rescue operation.
likened the alligator's growling sounds with "a large dragon roar" -
and she feared the creature might injure a curious child.
said worried elementary-school girls conducted prayer services near the
pipe - but boys teased the creature and tried to feed it hot dogs.
repeatedly had contacted the FWC and asked for someone to free the
gator, to no avail. A group of neighbors and a FLORIDA TODAY reporter
and photographer congregated by the pipe Tuesday afternoon, and FWC
officers removed the animal shortly afterward.
week in Seminole, an FWC trapper, deputies and onlookers helped pull an 8-foot alligator from a roadside drain.
Wildlife officials plan to transport the animal to a gator farm.
FWC initially recommended that the Merritt Island neighbors contact a
private wildlife rescue or rehabilitation facility - but residents
feared a trapper would promptly kill the gatorand harvest its meat and
Hill said alligators rarely feed this time of year, and it was not trapped in the pipe.
"If he crawled up there, he could crawl back out 99 out of 100 times," she said.
FWC's Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program received 14,275 nuisance
alligator complaints in 2011, and 6,995 gators were removed.
"We're so happy they were able to save him, and he's OK," Venuto said Tuesday night.
"I've lived here 20 years and never saw that before.