Pet alligators? The pros and cons - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Pet alligators? The pros and cons

The Iowa suburbs isn't a place you'd expect to find an alligator, but that's what Des Moines police confiscated from a family home. In New Jersey, Atlantic City police discovered two alligators living inside a drug dealer's house. All kinds of people are illegally keeping alligators as pets, but some states do allow it as long you get a permit.

Jules Sylvester has supplied moviemakers with unusual creatures for over 25 years. As one of Hollywood's top exotic animal wranglers, Jules know all about keeping and caring for an "untouchable pet."

The American alligator is born at 1-foot and grow about a foot a year on average. Anything up to 12, 13, 14 or 15-feet have been found. These alligators also weigh over 1,000 pounds.

These are very unforgiving animals. They react purely on instinct and if you look around the tip of the jaw there you might see some tiny little black dots. They are little sensory devices; if you touch them their mouth goes off like a rattrap. They don't have to think about it, it just happens. They are reptiles; they are predators. If they are hungry and it's a slow day, they will take a piece off of you.

You can have them as pets in certain states. You used to be able to buy them in the 60's. Buy them from every pet store. $10.99 and get your baby alligator. If you wanted to buy one now and you got the permit, here is what you need. Three to five hundred dollars to buy a baby alligator, maybe more. You have to be zoned which also is going to cost money.

The alligator is going to grow 14-15 feet which means you need a good area, about 3 times the size of the alligator all the way around. This area has to include deep fresh water because alligators live in the swamp. Along with that the alligator also requires a good sunning area, one that is not made from cement. Preferably an alligators sunning area would be made of grass. Additionally, an alligator requires a good, solid food source. Chicken and beef, preferably something with fur and feathers.

Sylvester says, "I don't recommend going out and buying one just because you think it's cool. They are truly fascinating and I do understand people wanting to have one. But not very practical." 

If you are interested in a pet alligator, be sure to check the laws in your state first. But also check your city and county ordinances. While the state law may allow alligators, local laws may prohibit them.

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