Animal Control officers responded to a call on Monday, June 25, just after 6 p.m. for a Reston-area citizen who found an alligator in her yard.
The officers did a little croc hunting of their own and found the stray alligator in the yard of a home in the 1800 block of Dasher Lane. The animal appeared to be un-injured and in good health. It is believed to be a juvenile, approximately 2 feet 6 inches long, weighing about 5 pounds. They carefully rounded up the animal and transported it back to the shelter. Fortunately, the creature was found during warm weather as its survivability would have diminished greatly in cold weather. The animal will be transferred to a licensed facility that can provide it with proper care.
Fairfax County ordinances prohibit the keeping of any wild or exotic animals and outline the prohibition of crocodilians, including but not limited to alligators, crocodiles, caimans and gavials.
Caroline Seitz, director of Reptiles Alive, a local reptile education organization, cautions anyone from thinking that owning a crocodilian is a good idea. I tell children that alligators can get as big as their [human] dad. They are not a good animal to have in a bathtub in an apartment, Seitz says. Crocodiles get even bigger. They can weigh 1,000 pounds and be 15 feet long. And, she cautions of the smaller crocodilian sometimes sold at pet stores: The caiman can still get seven feet long and send you to the hospital.
Seitz adds that crocodilians are extremely difficult to take care of, requiring an enormous tank whose weight would destroy most normal homes. Reptiles Alive! has special permits to have the crocodilians they house. To provide proper care, the group maintains an 800-pound aquarium for the animals. Crocodilians also require a light and heat source and as a result house fires are sometimes caused by people who obtain these animals and do not ensure proper lighting safety.
Aside from being illegal in Fairfax County, people who circumvent the law and obtain and house a crocodilian in the County are at risk of losing their home owners insurance, which typically will not insure a homeowner or pay bite claims for injuries caused by one of these animals.
For more information about the Animal Service Division, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/animalservices/