BY RANDY McNUTT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HAMILTON -- His beady yellow eyes tracked me when he thought I wasn't looking. As I started the car Thursday morning, I thought I saw a snake next to the driveway. Then I realized: Hey, that's an alligator. Longer than a yardstick. Green bumps on his back.
Reporter Randy McNutt was startled to find this alligator in his Hamilton yard after it escaped from a neighbor's aquarium.
(Randy McNutt photo)
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He lay in the grass, still as a stone. I slid past him gently and said, "G-o-o-d boy."
I told my wife, "An alligator's resting near your dead irises." "Oh, please."
He looked dry. Maybe in shock. He glared as we walked around him. My wife ordered me to call the police.
"I don't want that thing in my garden," Cheryl said.
Everybody seems gator-crazy these days. A man saw one last week in the Great Miami River near Trenton. In December, a Madison Township man found another gator in the river. He placed it in a bathtub.
I, however, would not touch one with lead gloves. Cheryl did get close enough to place the top of our bird bath -- with fresh water -- next to him.
"The poor thing's thirsty," she said.
Perhaps not. His short little legs propelled him faster than I anticipated.
I tried to shoo him back into the yard, not wanting him injured in the street.
Finally, he turned back, and an officer arrived.
"Yeah, that's a gator," he said. "But I don't have a net." He walked into our back yard to make sure we weren't operating a reptilian menagerie.
When I returned home after taking Cheryl to work, I found neither officer nor gator. My wife worried that the gator had escaped into our bushes, ready to grab her ankles.
But later, at work, I was suddenly relieved when our police reporter opened the door and said, "Hey, Hamilton cops caught a gator!" By 10 a.m., they had released the 3-foot suspect on his own scaly recognizance.
He was returned to his home -- a residential aquarium in our neighborhood.