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Goodboa   Nile/water monitors   Thesnakeman  

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 Working with aggressive alligator

I’m new here, and new to reptile care.

I do not have an alligator as a pet, but i care for one at work. I take care of a collection of herptiles at my university and one of my charges is an alligator that is JUST under 4 feet and weighs about 18 pounds. He is kept in a large vivarium where he has lots of room to walk around and has a large pond to swim in.

I have been caring for him for approximately two months and we just changed his diet from mice to rats. I used to feed him twice a week. Due to his behavior, we’ve cut back to one feeding a week.

But he has lately become very aggressive and i want to curb this behavior immediately. I occasionally have to actually handle him, and I’d rather not get bit. I know i can’t just yell at him or train him like a dog...but i wonder if he’s testing me an pushing my limits to see what he can get away with. Do alligators behave that way? I know they aren’t dumb and can certainly learn, so how do i show him i’m boss without getting hurt?

He used to run and dive into the pond when i would enter the enclosure, but now he holds his ground and hisses at me until i poke him with something. Then he runs, but sometimes he stands up, faces me and hisses. Once he charged a very short distance, but backed down and eventually ran away. When i pick him up, he thrashes and hisses. I’m not so sure he is actually snapping at me or not, but his mouth came quite close to my arm last time i held him.

When i feed him, i usually put on waders and actually stand in the pond and feed him with a tongs.

I could use any advise anyone can offer in curbing this aggressive behavior. He has not had one single person caring from him consistently for the past 4 years, at least. His care-takers change every year.
At first he wouldn’t eat for me at all, but now he eats and seems to not like me all that much. (I’m a woman, for the record. He gets particularly testy when certain men are around...)

I am concerned for my safety. I know i should be taping his mouth when i handle him at this do i do that? To my knowledge, he’s never had it done, and i so i’m quite sure he’s not going to like it much.

I’m largely inexperienced with reptiles, so i would like any advice anyone can offer about caring for this animal. i am also looking for GOOD reputable resources where i can learn more about the biology and behavior of alligators.


06/23/11  08:55pm


Nile/water monitors
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  Message To: Goodboa   In reference to Message Id: 2226377

 Working with aggressive alligator

First off that’s a large size gator for a "new keeper" to be in charge of. Second, he should be offered food daily, snakes can get by with once a week feedings but this animal can’t stay healthy with one or two feeding a week. He needs (Whole prey food items)fish, chicken,rodent,etc. He might ( to some degree) calm down if his needs are meant. Don’t think its a good idea to go in the water with a hungry gator, use a pole to feed him. An experienced keeper would put a towel over the gators eyes and mount the animal from behind closing his snout and have a "helper" tape the animals mouth, I wouldn’t suggest even trying this with out years of experience. These animals like to do the death roll to escape and to dismember prey. His behavior is normal. He will never trust you and you should never trust him, but if you establish a daily routine with him and over time it may make feedings and short interactions safer. Here is some good reading, you may find interesting/helpful.

06/25/11  08:25pm


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  Message To: Nile/water monitors   In reference to Message Id: 2226634

 Working with aggressive alligator

Interesting post (first) as my experience with Alligators is that they are usually more placid than crocs!
You have drawn a short straw.
All the best.

08/13/12  07:00pm

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