Why did the alligator cross the road?

When we first noticed alligators here in Inverness Village they came to us rather suddenly, apparently called from their winter seclusion to come out into the warming sunshine and lie on the banks with the turtles.  We first noticed a large alligator, named “One” in honor of his ‘coming-out-order,’ and then a second, smaller gator in the same small lake who was given the name “Two.”  Size was an appropriate criterion for this name as well, since Two is noticeably smaller than One.  A few days later we noticed a third gator, smaller than One and Two, in the other lake in the Village so naturally his name became “Three.”  For several weeks we enjoyed looking for One and Two in  East Lake and Three in West Lake as each went about the business of cruising around or climbing out on the bank to enjoy sunbathing with the turtles.

Now we’ve noticed a perplexing change:  One still seems to be the “big dog” or alpha gator in East Lake.  But Two has apparently moved across the street to West Lake, and in doing so s/he has assumed the status of “big gator in the lake” since Two is larger than Three!  When we first noticed two alligators in West Lake we didn’t make the connection that Two had moved, but eventually we confirmed that Two was no longer to be seen in East Lake and the obvious conclusion had to be that had Two packed up and moved across the road.  One reason might simply be that Two’s status improved by leaving East Lake with the bigger gator and going to West lake with the smaller “cousin.”  We’re not sure, of course, but after thinking about it for several days we realized that the more important question really is “How or when did the alligator cross the road?”

Did Two make the crossing through some underground tunnel which alligators have hollowed out under the banks of the lakes, a tunnel which perhaps connects the winter haven(s) which the alligators have constructed?  Or did Two cross above ground leaving the safety of the waters of East Lake to cross the fifty feet of grassy bank, then walk across the asphalt street, and finally cross another forty feet of grassy slope to discover West Lake?  There is no way Two could have seen West Lake from her/his vantage point on the banks of East Lake or while cruising there, so the sobering question of “how or when?” remains front and center in our attention.

Assuming that Two crossed above ground, the crossing almost certainly took place at night.  Think about that:  A gator walking about at night in the neighborhood, crossing the same street and grassy slopes where unassuming folks walk their dogs after dark, even late at night just before going to bed.  How would you like to meet that surprise while walking the dog?  Gives me something to think about when I’m walking our dogs!

I’ve got several photos of these gators posted on my photo gallery website.  Click to view them if you’re interested, and while you’re looking ponder this question:  “Why do those turtles seem so relaxed, sunning within inches of the gator’s jaws?”  Gators eat turtles, you know…


About Tom

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Appalachian State University.
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1 Response to Why did the alligator cross the road?

  1. lucy says:

    maybe there is some kind drainage system connecting the lakes? are they man-made? it seems like a long tunnel for a gator to dig…be careful walking those dogs at night!!!

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