Is Having A Pet Alligator A Good Idea?
Do you like the idea of having an exotic pet, a pet alligator for example? Following is a laundry list of things to think about before bringing one of these reptiles into your home. While a list such as this should be unbiased, it must be admitted up front that there are many reasons not to have a pet alligator, and very few reasons to have one.
Cute Little Guy - If one starts out with a baby alligator, one that is 6 of 9 inches in length and will comfortably fit into an aquarium tank the thinking is that this little guy is really a miniature version of the big, mean gators. It's so small that its bite can't really hurt and through handling and training you can tame it. Once that's been accomplished you can look forward to a long and happy relationship with your pet, who in spite of its growing quite large, has nonetheless bonded to you and the two of you will be pals.
You Don't Get Love, You Get Attitude - In reality, if you care for it, give it a good habitat to live in, and feed it well, in a few years you'll have a 12 foot monster who has never bonded with you, never will, and may not even like you. It may recognize you as the one who feeds it, but if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could just as easily become food yourself. Alligators do not make kind, loving, and faithful pets. Quite the opposite. You don't take an alligator for a walk. If it decides to take a bite out of you for any reason, be aware of the fact it can outrun you! What you've ended up with is a 12 foot reptile with an attitude.
Even if the baby alligator you purchase has been handled some and "tamed", what you'll get is an alligator that is much more calm than a wild one would be, and somewhat more predictable. Note that "more predictable" is not the same thing as totally predictable. Alligators don't really become domesticated in the strictest sense of the word. They merely become manageable and controllable, but only when the owner knows how to go about achieving that.
Not A Baby Forever - Your baby pet alligator will eventually, probably sooner than you think, outgrow its glass aquarium. It now needs larger and ever-expanding quarters. By the time it's 2 or 3 feet long it’s getting a little dangerous to be around, and it’s not going to follow you around the house to see what you're up to. You really don't want it following you anyway, ever. As it approaches full-size, you'll need something the size of your backyard to keep it in. This means, among other things, that you need to be living in a warm climate or your gator could become sickened, or at the very least a bit grumpy. Grumpy is not good. The gator will need room to roam around, barriers to keep it from escaping, and to keep people and dogs and cats out, plus a secure place for the gator when it's time to do maintenance work on its quarters. It's good to have an escape plan whenever that time is at hand.
Consider The Legal Aspects - As a pet alligator owner there is not only a responsibility to care for an animal that is going to live for a good long time, but there is a responsibly to friends, family, neighbors and community as well. An escaped alligator is a danger to all, and you can consider yourself fortunate if all that results in your pet escaping is a lawsuit from a frightened neighbor, it could easily be something much worse.
Before purchasing a pet alligator give all of this careful thought, and then think about it some more. Ask yourself, "What am I trying to prove?" Are you really wanting to live life on the edge, impress your friends, or just be the first one on your block to own a pet alligator? Having an interest in, or a love for reptiles, isn't a good reason. You can always get a lizard or a snake. Or, if it isn't going to hurt too much to be like everyone else, get a dog.