A bright orange alligator has been nicknamed the “Trumpagator” after amused locals saw it climb out of a South Carolina pond.
Gators are relatively common in swampy South Carolina, but are usually a dull gray, brown, or green color. This alligator shares the bright orange “Cheeto-dust” color associated with President Trump’s self-tan, so locals gave it the nickname “Trumpagator.”
— Brooks Brunson (@readthebrooks) February 9, 2017
Theories abound as to why this alligator is orange. Most were humorous speculations. One Twitter user commented that the alligator was simply trying to show his support for the president. Another guessed that the alligator had used too much self tanner. An orange, Trump-associated gator resulted in quite a few jokes that referenced President Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” and the accompanying speculation of whether or not the gator had recently left Washington, D.C.
Other, more realistic explanations for the gator’s color are that the gator is orange because of pollution, or from resting in the orange-tinted clay on the riverbed. An overgrowth of algae or albinism are other possibilities. Hanahan, the town where the gator was spotted, is near Charleston and is considered part of the “lowcountry.” This hot, wet, subtropical region is filled with swamps, rains often, and provides a good ecosystem for wildlife.
— CNET (@CNET) February 10, 2017
An animal biologist at the University of Florida told the Charleston Post and Courier, who originally reported on the alligator as their top local story, that the alligator must have been stained. Albino animals are usually white, but might have reddish-orange color in patches. Therefore, it is unlikely that the gator’s coloring was due to a genetic abnormality. More likely, this gator is orange because of something in its environment.
The rust coloring would most likely come off in the water, or when the gator sheds its skin.
Upon seeing a photo of the orange gator, the animal biologist exclaimed how surprising it was too see the bright orange animal.
“Holy mackerel! That’s even more orange than the last one I saw.”
The “Trumpagator” is between four- and five-feet long, but could grow up to 13 feet, the maximum size for wild gators. Although its color is most likely a stain, residents who claim to have seen the gator before say it does not lose its orange color. If the gator is orange due to its environment, whatever this gator was in that made it orange could affect other gators in Hanahan.
Locals are mostly happy to have a Trumpagator among them, as two-thirds of Berkeley county residents (where the town is located) voted for Donald Trump.
And although the idea of alligators living in residential backyards spooks visitors, locals are accustomed to living near these carnivorous predators. Alligators mostly eat crawfish, amphibians, and aquatic insects. For the most part, they do not bother or attack people. Still, local authorities advise people not to let children and pets play near alligators or the swamps and ponds they’ve been spotted in. There are about 750 alligator-related complaints per year, mostly to move the animals away from residential backyards and back to their more suitable habitats. Nearby plantations have been converted into historical museums and wildlife refuges for the abundant local wildlife.
Although alligators like the “Trumpagator” are mostly shy around people, there have been cases of them attacking humans. There is a video of the alligator’s larger cousin, the crocodile, attacking a couple in Zimbabwe, Africa. The couple was relaxing in their pool at night when a crocodile leapt into the water and attacked the smaller female. Skip ahead to the 20 second mark to see a real crocodile attack two unsuspecting people.
The Trumpagator has not proven itself violent and instead residents enjoy speculating on what brought about the unusual orange color. Locals say it gets larger and more orange every year.
[Featured Image by Jorge Saenz/AP Images]