A Houston-area family received a surprise when they discovered a seven-foot alligator camped out under their SUV.
The Sugar Land family quickly called for help from the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office after finding the alligator hiding out in their driveway under the rear of their black BMW SUV, ABC13 reported. Sugar Land is located to the southwest of Houston in Fort Bend County.
The Fort Bend County deputies confirmed the sighting and called for reinforcements from the Texas Gator Squad, a non-profit group established to safely and humanely recover alligators who encroach on the homes and ranches of area property owners. The group received accolades for its work during the Hurricane Harvey relief effort when alligators were forced from their homes into neighborhoods.
The group’s founder, “Gator Chris” Stephens and his crew responded to the call for help and brought the animal under control after it did not appear to want to leave its hiding spot, the Houston ABC affiliate reported.
Stephens said it appears the gator was out for a night on the town, looking for a mate.
“They go up this time of year. Gators travel a lot at night, going from pond to pond, looking for girlfriends, food, setting up time for mating. That’s all that they’re doing,” the alligator expert explained.
The Gator Squad eventually pulled the “twisting, turning, and thrashing gator” from its hiding spot under the BMW. They transported the alligator to the nearby Brazos River, where they released it.
Officials warn people to not take photos or video of alligators if they find their way into your environment. While it is “extremely rare” for an alligator to chase a person, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials report gators can move up to 35 miles per hour over short distances.
“Never make the mistake of thinking that an alligator is slow and lethargic,” the state wildlife management agency reports on their website. “Alligators are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered.”
Here are the Texas Parks and Wildlife “Dos and Don’ts” for living around alligators:
Don’t – kill, harass, molest or attempt to move alligators. State law prohibits such actions, and the potential for being bitten or injured by a provoked alligator is high.
Do – call your TPWD regional office if you encounter a nuisance gator that has lost its fear of people.
Don’t – allow small children to play by themselves in or around water.
Do – closely supervise children when playing in or around water.
Don’t – swim at night or during dusk or dawn when alligators most actively feed.
Do – use ordinary common care. Swim only during daylight hours.
Don’t – feed or entice alligators. Alligators overcome their natural shyness and become accustomed or attracted to humans when fed. It is now a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, to intentionally feed an alligator.
Do – inform others that feeding alligators creates problems for others who want to use the water for recreational purposes.
Don’t – throw fish scraps into the water or leave them on shore. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators, the end result can be the same.
Do – dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at most boat ramps or fish camps.
Don’t – remove any alligators from their natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is a violation of state law to do so. Alligators do not become tame in captivity and handling even small ones may result in bites. In particular, never go near baby alligators or pick them up. They may seem cute and harmless, but mama alligator will be nearby, and will protect her clutch for at least two years.
Do – enjoy viewing and photographing wild alligators from a safe distance of at least 30 feet or more. Remember that they’re an important part of Texas’s natural history, as well as an integral component of many wetland ecosystems.