WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Alligators are a common sight in Florida, even during the winter months, because temperatures are generally mild. But spotting an alligator in Massachusetts two weeks before the onset of winter is an unusual sight.
Thanks to a determined kayaker, the 4-foot alligator, which was first reported to wildlife officials four months ago, was plucked from the Westfield River on Tuesday by Agawam resident Jeremy White, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said in a Facebook post.
The alligator was first reported in mid-August when it was seen swimming near the Morgan Sullivan Bridge, which connects West Springfield and Agawam, WWLP reported.
All reptiles, including alligators, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises, are cold-blooded animals. That means they cannot control their body temperature and become sluggish in cold weather. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in the West Springfield area have reached the high 30s, with lows in the high 20s.
Wildlife officials said they believed the alligator was an illegal pet that had been released into the river. Because of the colder weather, the alligator’s chances for survival were rapidly diminishing.
“Several kayakers were inspired to try to locate and capture the animal but were unsuccessful,” wildlife officials told WWLP. “On Tuesday, one persistent kayaker found and captured the reptile, and subsequently contacted state wildlife officials.
White told the television station that he pulled the alligator into his kayak and brought it ashore before contacting the Massachusetts Environmental Police. Officials transported the reptile to a licensed rescue organization.
“We are grateful for Jeremy’s efforts, as this 4-foot cold-blooded reptile would not have survived the cold Massachusetts winter,” the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said in its Facebook post. “Remember, there are strict laws in place for keeping wildlife as pets in Massachusetts. This helps protect both people and animals from harm.”
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