A Florida family found an unpleasant surprise waiting on their doorstep recently when a nearly 9-foot alligator decided to make itself comfortable.
The massive reptile was resting on the shady Tampa doorstep when he was spotted by the home's residents in the early morning of June 30, according to local wildlife sanctuary, Croc Encounters.
On their Facebook page, Croc Encounters said they responded to the "emergency alligator call" that morning and discovered the 8-foot, 9-inch reptile laying on the doorstep.
"Despite [the family's] efforts to get him to move, he refused to leave," the reptile rescue facility explained in their post. "He was not too happy to be evicted from his comfortable, shady spot as he smashed everything in sight upon exiting."
Croc Encounters Facebook The alligator
Along with photos of the alligator laying on the doorstep, Croc Encounters shared one taken after they had removed the reptile from the step, showing welcome signs and decorations knocked over.
Interestingly enough, the alligator was missing two limbs — something Croc Encounters said they believe was a result of the wild reptile getting into a fight with another alligator — but noted that it "did not stop him from getting around."
Croc Encounters managed to rescue the alligator from the residential area, posting photos of the capture on Facebook, before bringing it to their facility where they showed the animal living in its "new home."
Croc Encounters Facebook The alligator being rescued by someone from Croc Encounters
Prior to the rescue, Croc Encounters said the reptile was "drawing a crowd all morning" as neighbors and local residents rushed to the Tampa home.
The family even went out of their way to notify delivery drivers of the potentially-dangerous encounter, leaving signs on what appears to be their garage door that read "Delivery Stop! Leave Packages here! ALLIGATOR at front door!! (seriously)”
"What a surprise that would have been for the delivery drivers!" Croc Encounters wrote on Facebook alongside the photo. "We were happy to get him removed before someone got hurt."
Croc Encounters Facebook The sign that was posted by the family
Though alligators are considered shy animals that usually avoid human contact, population growth and the tourism industry have increased the frequency of human-alligator interactions in Florida, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
When encountering an alligator, officials advise leaving the reptile alone and to avoid feeding them. In the unlikely event that an alligator charges — usually because a human is too close to its nest — people should run away quickly and in a straight path, UF stated.
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To prevent any future encounters, UF experts suggest practicing water safety — including keeping an eye on surroundings "near fresh or brackish water," especially with children, and swimming within posted areas during daylight hours only — throwing fish scraps into trash cans, and installing a fence around private yards that are at least four-and-a-half feet tall.
"Alligators are good climbers—anything lower would not be adequate protection," UF officials stated. "Remember that in Florida, it is illegal to kill or harass alligators."