An American woman recently looked at her koi pond and saw what appeared to be a very ugly fish floating in it. But when she went outside to investigate, she discovered that the fish was, in fact, an alligator!
Donna Faircloth lives in Chapin, South Carolina which is near Lake Murray. She was shocked to find a gator in her ornamental koi pond and contacted the Department of Natural Resources in an attempt to discover how it could have ended up there. Her neighbours are now concerned that alligators have migrated to the area from their usual habitat closer to the coast.
Pond fence no barrier to an alligator
The alligator’s presence in the pond was made all the more curious by the fact that the pond was fenced. Donna feared that the gator had made its way to Lake Murray and then to her pond via her neighbour’s garden. Once in the water, it wouldn’t have been able to climb out as the koi pond was originally a swimming pool and so had steep sides.
Lake Murray has never had alligators before. Many people swim in the lake and some are now feeling a little nervous about getting into the water. But biologists say that the lake is too cold in the winter to sustain alligators. That doesn’t help the locals if the gators arrive in summer!
Are there alligators in the lake?
Scientists believe that alligators move away from their usual coastal habitats because of human activity. As more homes are built in an alligator country, human-alligator interaction increases and some of the gators decide to move on. The animals are regularly turning up where people don’t expect to find them, including koi ponds. There are roughly 100,000 alligators in the state of South Carolina but attacks on people are very rare considering how many gators there are.
The alligator in the pond was estimated to be four years old and was dead when found by Donna. She believes it had eaten several of her fish. State biologists have said that they are not concerned by the discovery and have instructed Ms Faircloth to bury the animal.
South Carolina’s alligators can live for up to 60 years and grow to 4 metres in length. Perhaps Donna was lucky that her visitor was only a youngster! Her treasured koi would have provided a tasty meal for the unwelcome visitor. Donna is hoping that this was a one-off event and that no further gators show up. If more of the reptiles are seen in the area then the lake will have to be looked at closely. It is important that people know if alligators have arrived.
Have you experienced any unexpected visitors in your koi pond? What’s the worse threat to your fish where you live?