Alligator found, rescued from Lake Michigan near Chicago suburb
Alligators are fascinating creatures. Here are 10 facts that you might not have known about the large reptiles.
Timothy Walters, Florida Today
A 4-foot alligator was rescued Monday from Lake Michigan after someone reported it swimming near Waukegan, Illinois.
“It is not every day someone reports an alligator in Lake Michigan and the report is true,” wrote a City of Waukegan official in a Facebook post. The city of 88,000 residents is about 35 miles north of Chicago.
The person who reported the animal also reportedly sent officials a video of the animal swimming in the lake.
Waukegan Police Animal Control and Larsen Marine Service Inc. rescued the alligator, which is being moved to the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, Illinois. The center is home to a natural living history museum and works on a number of conservation efforts, including for several species of crocodiles.
► Sept. 18: Great-grandmother kills 12-foot gator, thinks it ate her miniature horse
► Aug. 28: Woman tried acid, alligators to dispose of body of husband’s ex-lover
► Aug. 20: Alligator kills woman, pulling her into lagoon as she walked dog
Calls to the Waukegan Police were not immediately returned.
A kayaker fishing for salmon near Waukegan Harbor found the alligator, which had its mouth taped shut, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“I went closer to see if it was real,” Chicago resident David Castaneda told the Tribune. “I was just in shock. I wasn’t sure if it was a real alligator or a toy.”
The reptile was living on borrowed time, said Rob Carmichael, curator for the Wildlife Discovery Center. If the animal doesn’t have any infections, it should be able to be nursed back to health.
Alligators generally live in fresh water from North Carolina to Texas, according to the Smithsonian Institution, which operates the National Zoo in the District of Columbia. The reptiles have the ability to survive in water as cool as 40 degrees, but because they’re not mammals, they’re inactive but not hibernating, said Bob Thomas, director of the Loyola Center for Environmental Communication in New Orleans.
The reptiles are most active when temperatures are 82 to 92 degrees, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They stop feeding when the temperature drops below about 70 degrees and become dormant below 55 degrees.
Lake Michigan’s temperature at Waukegan at about 1:30 p.m. CT Monday was 63 degrees.
City police will investigate whether the alligator found at around 10:30 a.m. Monday was abandoned, which is a crime, city spokesman David Motley told the Chicago Tribune. But fewer people now own exotic animals because of increased state regulations and permitting.
In August 2010, an alligator was discovered in the Chicago River under the Belmont Avenue bridge, according to a Tribune report.
Follow Fiona Keliher on Twitter: @fiona_kelliher
Range of the American alligator
Note: Gold color identifies its native areas. Rust color shows where isolated animals have been found. Source: U.S. Geological Survey
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