Has Anyone Seen the Leftover Turkey?

A few days before Thanksgiving, this little beastie was on the prowl, cruising through a picnic shelter at the Brazoria Wildlife refuge before heading down the boardwalk, sliding into the grass, and disappearing into the water.

Perhaps he’d heard rumors that a feast was coming and, having seen A Christmas Story, hoped to follow in the footsteps of the Bumpus’s hounds.

While I doubt that turkey showed up on his Thanksgiving menu, he surely found a different tidbit or two for which to be grateful. I was grateful that he seemed willing to pose, and that he was small.

Alligator mississippiensis


Comments always are welcome.
If you haven’t yet seen A Christmas Story, I highly recommend it.

46 thoughts on “Has Anyone Seen the Leftover Turkey?

    1. That movie is one of my Christmas traditions. I don’t know if TBS still shows it as a 24 hour marathon, but no matter. I have my own DVD of it now, and can watch it whenever I please — even in July. I always get a kick out of seeing the gators, but discovering one under a picnic table when I often pause for lunch was a little unusual.

            1. Oh, I understand. I just was trying to think of something that was scarier to me than an alligator, and…well.. your traffic (and Houston’s) came to mind!

  1. I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere…of the genre “Grandma Got Run Eaten by an Alligator.”
    Which reminds me, it’s time to get out the Leg Lamp (available in many sizes on EBay).

    1. I love that song about Grandma, and have since the first time I heard it. Just like Grandpa, I believe.

      It’s occurred to me that A Christmas Story is like the Rocky Horror Show for some of us who grew up in the 1950s midwest. Say “Bumpus!” or “leg lamp” or “Farkus” to us, and you’re likely to get a whole chunk of dialogue in return. Besides, we remember coal furnaces and triple-dog-dares to put our tongues on metal, not to mention bars of soap in our mouths.

    1. Duck certainly would be a possibility. I’ve seen plenty of ducklings pulled under by gar fish, and a gator could take a duck just as easily. I haven’t had a television in years, so I missed the footage of the alligator catching the dog. I read about that happening in Florida from time to time, especially around golf courses and subdivision ponds where people walk their dogs.

    1. The most amusing aspect of the encounter was pointing out the alligator to some people who were within ten feet of it, but hadn’t seen it. They certainly were surprised.

  2. Like you, I would have been very thankful that he was small. But it is just possible that he was not looking for leftover turkey. He may have heard that some folks say he tastes just like chicken and thought a little time in the deep grass was wise.

    1. I wonder if the young ones are more tender? Or if mother alligators tell their youngsters, “Go for the small ones. They’re more tender.” In truth, I suspect he simply was out exploring the neighborhood. If you enlarge the photo, you can see mud on his snout. It hadn’t dried, so he hadn’t been out and about very long. I wondered if he might have been looking for a nice spot to hole up for the cold weather that’s coming.

  3. That gator is really stepping out. I hope it found something tasty to chomp on, that wasn’t someone’s foot or pet!
    I love that movie. Somebody found the house they used as a set, in Cleveland, and made it into a museum, so I guess I lot of people feel the same way. Sometimes my father will get worked up and yell at inanimate household objects, just like the dad in the movie cursing the furnace.

    1. I wish the lighting had been better when he was on the boardwalk, but with alligators, I take what I can get. Just after that, he scooted through the fence into the grass, and I was able to walk around and get a couple of close-ups.

      I think I read that the house had become a museum; I’m not surprised. The film certainly has planted itself into our culture. When I visited the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, they had an exhibit on the Red Ryder BB gun that featured in the movie, as well as a variety of movie-related art. It was great fun to see — almost as much fun as watching the film again and waxing nostalgic.

  4. reminds me of the gators that moved up into Buffalo Bayou when the restaurant there by Bayou Bend was throwing the leftover meat in the bayou to feed them. the last time I paddled down there and saw them they were at least 6′. I wonder how many little dogs and cats have disappeared since the restaurant moved.

    1. I suppose it was a kick for the restaurant employees to see the gators come by, but as you suggest, that’s one of the worst ideas in the world. Getting squirrels and birds accustomed to human feeding is one thing. Tempting the gators into the backyard is something else entirely. The best sign I ever saw said, “Don’t let alligators bite the hand that feeds them. They’ll take it as an invitation to bite the leg, torso, and head that belongs to the hand.”

      1. Our lives are so very different here – the most insistent food-beggar at a riverside pub garden was a very insistent duck – rather him than a gator!

        1. You have ducks at the river, and we have gulls at the shore. Trying to eat outside can be a challenge here. Your ducks may be reading our gulls’ instruction manual on how to snag food from humans!

    1. I’m quite fond of alligators, actually, although I keep my distance. This young ‘un was especially cute, and I thought the same thing — that he had a lovely smile. It was fun to see those ‘baby teeth,’ too. Of course, even at that age I wouldn’t want those teeth clamping down on me.

    1. When I found this really attractive gator at the beginning of the boardwalk, I wished you could have been there to get some photos. Once he got into the grass, it was easy to walk around him while keeping some distance.

      Your metaphor is apt. It occurs to me that part of the problem may be that we have the wrong people hunting our “alligator.” We need the metaphorical equivalent of some good ol’ boys from the Louisiana swamps to move in on it.

  5. Eek!! I’m happy you got close enough to this critter to get his picture, but I hate to admit I’d have been running in the opposite direction! Ever since hearing that alligators can eat small dogs, I’ve been avoiding them (not that that’s hard to do in the middle of Illinois, ha!)

    1. An alligator’s prey depends to a great extent on the size of the alligator. When they’re quite young they’ll take eggs, snakes, worms, crustaceans and such. As they grow, they go on to larger prey, and a full grown adult can take a deer or a calf. This one was only about three feet long, and probably wouldn’t have been interested in you or Dallas. I certainly wouldn’t want to tempt fate, though. Better to keep a distance, and keep the dogs on a short leash.

  6. He/she is a character–just look at that strut along the pier! I’m guessing it’s gnawed a bone or two! Those are great shots, Linda!

    1. Tina, ‘strut’ is exactly the right word. That animal didn’t care one whit that we were playing paparazzi. I don’t know if it was young and inexperienced, or if it was the alligator equivalent of the honey badger and just didn’t care. It was fun to see it, though, and fun to be able to follow it around for a while. I think it was too old for mama to be worrying about it, but we kept an eye out, anyway.

    1. Even if they wanted a gator dinner, they’d better not get caught snagging one out of season. In what are called Core Counties, including Brazoria, where the refuge is located, open season is September 10-30, and the bag limit is one. You have to have a tag as well as a hunting license, and regulations about how you can bag one are rather complex. The state does a great job of monitoring the populations, supervising tags, and going after poachers, and it works out well.

    1. Well, I doubt you’ll come across one at the Ditch, but on the other hand, you might (or might not!) enjoy reading this article about alligators in Michigan. While they aren’t native, a lot of people are keeping them as pets, or for other purposes. Some escape, some get released. It’s odd, but there are lots of oddities in this world!

      (Good to see you!)

    1. Isn’t that a wonderful expression? And why not? It was sunny and warm,, there weren’t many people around, and the ponds were full of waterfowl. What alligator wouldn’t smile?

  7. I am sure that if I lived near alligators I would prefer the little ones. They could almost be described as cute without any of the badges for tangles they’ve endured. Yours appears a bit more nimble that larger adults and all the scaly details in the portrait are attractive. One could get lost in those big brown eyes.

    1. It’s always surprising to see these trucking around on their little legs — we’re so used to thinking of them sliding on their bellies. I did think this one was especially cute, and it was great fun to be able to capture some of the details.

      I did just notice the shadow at the end of its tail. It looks to me like it’s picked up a piece of grass on its way across the decking. The bottom of its tail end is smooth, and the shadow should be, too, but that jagged bit of shadow looks like the grasses growing up between the boards.

    1. But he has a cute smile, don’t you think? Truly, they aren’t aggressive toward humans who don’t annoy them, and now that breeding season is over and the weather is getting colder, they tend to be a little sluggish. I suspect this one might have been out to sunbathe!

    1. Every time I look at that second photo, those big eyes really get to me, and when I have the chance to watch one of them walking somewhere, I’m always amused. They have an almost jaunty air that seems a little out of character.

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