While the mystery of where it came from remains, we now know where the alligator found in a downtown Brampton backyard has ended up.
The juvenile alligator arrived at its new home at the Indian River Reptile Zoo east of Peterborough Tuesday. It was deemed initially healthy but will be quarantined for about six months as a precaution, according to Kyle O’Grady, the zoo’s assistant curator.
The zoo is the only accredited reptile facility in Canada.
The alligator was found sunning itself in the backyard of an Elliott Street home Sunday afternoon. Peel police and Brampton Animal Control officers were called as neighbours wondered at the appearance of the uninvited visitor.
Many have speculated that the reptile was being kept as a pet and either escaped or was let loose.
Animal Control officers estimated the alligator to be between 2 1/2 and three feet long (about one metre).
“No one really wants to get close enough to measure it exactly,” said Brampton Animal Services Manager Kathy Duncan.
It was the first alligator-on-the-loose call Brampton Animal Control officers have ever had.
They used a catch-pull to capture it, a device normally used to capture aggressive dogs.
Brampton has an exotic pet bylaw that makes it illegal to keep alligators and many other exotic animals.
“But more people keep these animals at home than you think,” O’Grady said. “The best way to put it… is this is the first alligator call of the summer.”
Over the last four or so years, the zoo has responded to seven calls about loose ‘gators across the province. Five turned out to be alligators or caimans (their smaller South American relative). Two calls were hoaxes.
The reptiles are cute as babies, but can get too big too quick for their owners. American alligators grow to about 13 feet (four metres) on average. They also need a lot of care, space, heat and food — and can be dangerous.
“These are predators. They’ve been around for millions of years,” Mr. O’Grady said. “They won’t change because they’re a pet.”
Two months ago, a four-foot long alligator was found dead in a ditch in Caledon.
And in late January, Brampton Animal Control officers were called to a townhouse fire on Bramalea Road, where they removed six pythons being kept as pets. The snakes were relocated in co-operation with the owners to a municipality that allows the snakes to be kept. Pythons are also illegal pets in Brampton.
— With files from Torstar News Service