"Uh, honey, I think there's an alligator in the garden'

Friday, June 12, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Gator!
Reporter Randy McNutt was startled to find this alligator in his Hamilton yard after it escaped from a neighbor's aquarium.
(Randy McNutt photo)
| ZOOM |

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.

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.

Local Headlines For Friday, June 12, 1998

"Uh, honey, I think there's an alligator in the garden'
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Defense plea to jury: Give Hughbanks life
Drinking fountain evolved into icon
Fernald radiation levels to be regulated
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Ft. Wright chief faces dismissal
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Plan to replace Lincoln Court public housing draws opposition
Pranksters offered community service
Probation officer resigns after harassment allegation
Rape case closes with a mistrial
Shooting kills man, leaves girl wounded
Storms cause floods, slides
Suspect in '89 slaying arrested in Columbus
Three-city downtown plan waits
Zoo's rare rhino pregnant