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Old 13 July 2008, 08:54 PM
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DawnStorm DawnStorm is offline
 
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Alligator Were baby alligators ever sold as pets?

I've heard that back in the 60s Florida pet stores sold baby gators; that it was legal to have baby gators as pets, but that that practice was banned in the 1970s.
True or false?
I can't imagine anyone having even a baby gator as a pet! They do get bigger y'know!
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Old 13 July 2008, 09:04 PM
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Alligator

Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnStorm View Post
I've heard that back in the 60s Florida pet stores sold baby gators; that it was legal to have baby gators as pets, but that that practice was banned in the 1970s.
True or false?
I can't imagine anyone having even a baby gator as a pet! They do get bigger y'know!
I went to highschool in Jakarta, Indonesia, and at some of the markets there, they sold baby alligators (among other things, including endangered and rare animals (or parts thereof)).

My mom asked one of the men selling them how big they get, and he held his hands about two feet apart. Then he asked how be big an area we would be keeping it in? Going along with it, my mom described the pond we had in our entranceway, about 10 feet by 20 feet. The man stretched his arms out about 3 feet, and said, 'ok, maybe this big'. My mom held her arms all the way out (probably a little bit more than 5 feet) and asked, could it get this big? The guy thought about it for a second, 'yeah, it will probably get that big... maybe even a bit bigger'. Not that we had any intention of buying one in the first place, but there was no way after that!
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Old 13 July 2008, 09:14 PM
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Alligator

That alligators were commonly sold in Florida is hardly surprising. What happened when purchased animals got bigger was the buyer's problem, so the vendors didn't care. Laws restricting the sale of non-domesticated animals were generally enacted to protect the animals themselves (not the buyers) and were therefore slow in coming.

The town I grew up in had a wild animal park (Jungleland) that went belly-up in 1969. They put everything up for auction, including the animals, and quite a few people in the area ended up buying exotic animals they couldn't properly care for and had no business owning.

- snopes
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Old 13 July 2008, 09:23 PM
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When I was a kid, the local Woolworth's would occasionally sell offbeat pets, chiefly turtles. I can recall their offering horned toads and, at least once, "baby alligators." They were a light brown and looked gatory, but someone told me--don't remember who--that they probably weren't American alligators, but caimans.

Brad "comin' here an' takin' our gators' jobs...." from Georgia
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  #5  
Old 13 July 2008, 09:47 PM
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Baby alligators are still sold as pets. In fact they can be purchased at Aquarium Wholesale at the Great Plains Mall in Olathe, KS. I saw them just last week, cute wee things that have a handwritten sign on the aquarium that says, "Warning: Alligators will grow up to 6 feet". It's very sad.
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Old 14 July 2008, 12:37 AM
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I recall baby alligators being sold in the pet store in town when I was in junior hs. My friend and I would stop by often to see what they had. Like Brad, I was later told they were caiman rather than gators. I had no idea, back then, they could get much larger than the cute little babies in the tanks. A common misconception was if you kept them in something small, they wouldn't grow big.
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Old 14 July 2008, 04:28 AM
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Alligators live a long time too. When I lived in New Orleans I read a story in the paper about an old maiden lady who died in her 80's who had an alligator living under house (the tradtional design is elevated a few feet off the ground for flooding then fenced but that's a whole 'nother story). She had been given the poor 'gator as pet by her brother when she was in her 20's!! For 60 years she fed it chicken and bread, and kept a muddy hole for it to wallow. The newspaper story said that the Audubon Zoo collected it because they didn't think it would survive in the wild. She called him (who knew?) Butch.
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Old 14 July 2008, 06:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KKHB View Post
Baby alligators are still sold as pets. In fact they can be purchased at Aquarium Wholesale at the Great Plains Mall in Olathe, KS. I saw them just last week, cute wee things that have a handwritten sign on the aquarium that says, "Warning: Alligators will grow up to 6 feet". It's very sad.
I have toured the Okefenokee State Park (if you are ever in Waycross, GA, you simply must do it, and you may as well, because there is danged little else for someone passing through to do). I can confirm that gators will get a LOT bigger than six feet.
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Old 14 July 2008, 06:43 AM
KKHB
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
I have toured the Okefenokee State Park (if you are ever in Waycross, GA, you simply must do it, and you may as well, because there is danged little else for someone passing through to do). I can confirm that gators will get a LOT bigger than six feet.
'Tis true. I have been to Okefenokee and I am from coastal SC, so no strangers to gators myself. I was just reporting the sign. But even though they can and do get larger, 6 feet is a good average for these, especially since they will probably never reach their full life expectancy, being in Kansas and sold to buyers who likely have little or no training, education or research into their care. I may be being harsh, but they are at a mall, for goodness' sake. I would like to hang a sign countering theirs that reads, "Alligators are not impulse items." But I doubt it would do any good.

I figured at least they are giving potential buyers some warning, although I can't imagine anyone buying an 8-12 inch baby alligator and expecting it to stay that way. The babies being sold in Olathe are so small and still orange speckled/striped. I wonder if they should even be away from their mothers. I know the mother stays with the young for a year, but I don't know exactly how fast they grow or at what age they lose that baby coloration.
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Old 14 July 2008, 10:06 AM
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Alligator

Am I the only one old enough to remember an old Carl Barks' Donald Duck comic where Huey, Dewey and Louie, much against their uncle's will, buy a pet alligator and Donald exchanges is for a new, bigger, alligator each night just to show them alligators don't make good pets?
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Old 14 July 2008, 01:58 PM
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Alligators were sold up until they were protected under the Endangered Species Act in the early 70s. After that, caimans were sold, usually under a sign that said "live baby" and then a cartoonish picture.

Alligators have very successfully rebounded and are no longer listed under ESA, but I'm not certain if they are currently sold. I hope not, I've encountered 12 footers in Florida wetlands and streams.
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  #12  
Old 15 July 2008, 12:31 AM
KKHB
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlobinske View Post
Alligators have very successfully rebounded and are no longer listed under ESA, but I'm not certain if they are currently sold. I hope not, I've encountered 12 footers in Florida wetlands and streams.
Since coming off the endangered list, the sale of alligators has made a huge come back. Besides the ones I know of at the store in Olathe (and they are alligators, not caimans. Although similar, the differences between alligators and caimans can be seen even in juveniles.) a quick google search for "baby alligators for sale" gives pages and pages of hits for classified type ads for "American Alligators", in many different states. I am pretty sure the sale of alligators is still illegal in Florida and probably some other states as well, but they are easily and legally purchased elsewhere. And they are very cheap. The google search found prices around $60.00 and today at the mall they are "on special" for $29.99- that is only going to add to the impulse purchasing of them- only to suffer a horrible fate when (if) released in Kansas when they grow too large and in an environment that is unsuitable for them.
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  #13  
Old 15 July 2008, 04:41 PM
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Default baby alligators

as a child in Connecticut in the very early 1950s, I remember baby alligators being offered as sideshow prizes at the first travelling circus I ever attended. I wanted one very badly, as they were adorably tiny and had the cutest little beady eyes. luckily, my father knew more about alligators than I did, and was able to lure me away from them with the offer of a very tiny bible offered in another booth.
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  #14  
Old 27 May 2009, 01:08 PM
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Default far from any ocean

I clearly remember in '66 or '67 seeing baby crocodilians of some kind on sale in a dime store in Brownfield, TX, far from any ocean. I wanted my mother to get me one, but she managed to divert me with a chocolate bunny.

My supervisor at work remembers seeing them in Clovis stores in that same time period, too.
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  #15  
Old 28 May 2009, 11:12 PM
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My mom had an alligator (or something that looked a lot like one) when she was young. It was probably not really an alligator, but I've seen pictures of her with an alligator-looking thing in her room... She said it got to be about 5' long and they ended up passing it along to a collector or some kind of farm. This would've been sometime before about 1964 and probably came from Foy's in downtown Fairborn.
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Old 29 May 2009, 01:21 AM
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Baby alligators and caimans are sold at the reptile store in our little city. The store has a very large glassed-in enclosure with a very large live alligator in it (that isn't for sale). They make sure that customers know how large they can get.
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Old 29 May 2009, 03:57 AM
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The thread rises from the dead!

OT, but on our recent visit to Florida we went to the state park at Wakulla Springs. I've never seen so many gators! And I went swimming in the same water with them. The water was only sixty-eight degrees (it never warms up to more than 72), so the alligators were probably on the torpid side.

Lord knows I was.
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  #18  
Old 29 May 2009, 04:25 PM
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My uncle's brother-in-law had a pet gator (or large lizard of some sorts) in the late 80's after he got divorced. The gator was about 4 feet long when it died, but it was far bigger than it was supposed to be. Apparently he was instructed to keep it in a small aquarium and feed it rarely, which would limit its growth. The problem was that he was living with his parents at the time (immediately following the divorce) and his parents owned a deli - old meat which was destined for the trash went to the gator, and he grew too big. Strictly speaking, I think it died from some kind of food poisoning - either that or too much cholesterol.
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Old 29 May 2009, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
The gator was about 4 feet long when it died, but it was far bigger than it was supposed to be. Apparently he was instructed to keep it in a small aquarium and feed it rarely, which would limit its growth.
If it was an actual alligator, the person that told him this was 100% incorrect. Alligators don't mature like that--they will continue to grow regardless of the size of their habitat, and a lack of food will kill it other than stunt its size.

Even the smallest crocodilian, the spectacled caiman, maxes out at around 6 feet.

Crocodilians as "pets" is a horrible idea.
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  #20  
Old 29 May 2009, 05:58 PM
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When I was in college in the early 70s, I had friend who had kept his pet alligator (that's what he called, I don't know nothing about no caimans, those are islands, aren't they?). It had grown to about four feet or so. He kept it in a kiddy pool, except when he let it wander around...

One day I was at his apartment with one of his roommates sitting on the couch and considering agricultural products. Tom came home and said I have to Allie back in his pool. With that, I was told to get off the couch. Roommate and Tom lift the couch a couple of feet forward to find his pet, Allie. I was so glad that creature was well-fed and didn't need to hunt!

The experience left me, well, sober.

Ali "a whole different take on ankle-biters" Infree
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