The fine fellow in this photo is a 4-5 year old alligator. No, he's not native to the Sonoran Desert. He was found in a Rubbermaid container, in the parking lot at work, early this morning by one of our security staff. Whoever left him there had thrown a handful of hotdogs in with him, and then just driven off. Our herpetology staff hastily took care of the poor, scared little guy and found him a larger tub to sit in, in the shade of their building, complete with securely padlocked lid.
We went over to pay him a visit after lunch. Bill had just finished up a 'Live and (sort of) On the Loose' presentation and was happy to open the lid for us and talk about alligators in general. Turns out he was quite excited - it was the first time he'd got to handle an alligator since he started working at the museum seventeen years, although previously he'd worked with them at the Philadelphia Zoo. We'll be shipping the gator off to a dedicated rescue facility in Phoenix soon, although Bill did say he'd love to take him home. I guess he felt his wife wouldn't be receptive to the new family member.
Bill pointed out that the tail was quite badly injured - chewed almost down to the bone. It's probable that the alligator had been housed with turtles who had done this to him. Luckily, the wound was clean and looked like it would heal just fine. We also learned that in order to sex a gator, you have to put your hand inside the cloaca, and feel the shape of whatever's in there. At just over three foot long, this youngster is too small for any of the herpetologists to be able to do that, so my apologies if I've been using the wrong pronouns for him! Hopefully he'll forgive me.
What with the inauguration this morning, streamed live into our theater for the benefit of staff, and a long lunch with my colleague Gareth, his sister and mother, the day went by very quickly. (See a couple more photos at Flickr).