No one ever accused an alligator of being pretty, but wildlife researchers just caught one in Georgia that is down right scary.
It’s 11 feet long, 375 pounds and “misshapen” in haunting ways.
To start with, the beast — named Doc — has a really big head, nearly 20 inches in length, according to the Coastal Ecology Lab at the University of Georgia.
“Doc’s head is about 1.3 times as long as the average bowling pin is tall!” the lab wrote on Facebook on May 7.
“Doc seems to have been around for a while. This is evident by his numerous misshapen and worn scutes (bony scales), as well as old injuries that have healed. Doc is missing part of the left front of his snout and has one snaggle tooth that sticks straight out of his upper jaw. He also is missing his left eye.”
That missing eye is how they managed to catch Doc without much fuss, the lab said: “We approached him from his blindside.”
Doc was captured in the Mud Lake area of Okefenokee Swamp Park as part of an ongoing alligator project, which is studying everything from their courtship habits to how far they travel. A dozen alligators are part of the study, each one fitted with a satellite tag on their neck. The largest of them is 11-foot, 5-inch Okefenokee Joe, who weighs more than 400 pounds, the lab reports.
Still, Doc’s head is about 1.18 inches longer than Okefenokee Joe’s, the lab reported.
“Despite his injuries and old age, Doc still has some fight in him as he rightfully growled and hissed at us while we were capturing him. He is very possibly the dominant male in this stretch of the swamp,” the lab wrote.
“In addition, it seems that he is still reproducing as there were numerous juvenile alligators in the surrounding vicinity. Way to go, Doc!”
The Coastal Ecology Lab did not give Doc’s age, but American alligators can live up to 50 years in the wild and 80 years in captivity, according to the Georgia Aquarium.
Georgia is home to an estimated 200,000 alligators, mostly in the southern part of the state, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The biggest can reach 16 feet and 800 pounds, the state says.