Adding an alligator was briefly tempting


I think I have now officially seen it all. I know, I’m still pretty young yet (although I don’t usually feel that way until I’ve had my cup or three of morning coffee). Still, there comes a time in your life when you’ve finally seen the absolute last thing you expected to see.

I was at Tractor Supply buying feed last week. I’d rather not have to go all the way to McPher­son, but nobody around here sells non-medicated chick feed, and I’m all about no antibiotics in my chickens. I grabbed a Rural Messenger, since I enjoy many of the columns, as well as looking over the classifieds to see if anything we need is offered and affordable.

You all know how much I love animals. A friend once almost talked me into getting a wallaby. The same friend almost convinced me that I needed a monkey. I’ve always wanted an elephant, but I’d settle for a buffalo (if I just had the right fencing).

I’ve kept parrots, bred parakeets and canaries, befriended hamsters and ferrets—not at the same time, of course!—taken in orphaned kittens, enjoyed fancy goldfish (you know, the really goofy looking ones), and I always pull over to help a turtle cross the road before it gets squished.

Of course, I had to peruse the “Pets for Sale.” I always feel sorry for the ones that are obviously from puppy mills. The three free llamas sounded pretty tempting, especially since I’ve been looking for a guardian animal. Llamas are known to be protective. Well, we haven’t laid in enough hay to feed three extra hungry mouths over the winter, and I’m not terribly keen on spending the cash to make up the difference. So, no llamas.

The next ad that caught my eye was another “free to good home.” One-year-old female merle Great Dane. Folks, I’m not going to kid you. I love Danes. I had to repeatedly smack myself upside the head and walk around outside so I didn’t grab the phone to pick up another dog. After all, one Dane and one Sheltie are enough for now, especially since my mom’s Aussie Shepherd comes to stay with us now and then. Three indoor dogs can really be a headache.

I skimmed through the rest of the ads. Yorkies, Shelties, Boxers, Jack Russell Terriers, German Shepherds…all great dogs but like I said, I’m full up. Then my eyes lit on something I never dreamed would show up in a classified ad. Folks, please put down your coffee—I don’t want you to get burned—and make sure you’re sitting down.

“American Alligator, $150, $300 with cage.” I had to blink hard and read it several times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things that weren’t there. Yep, it truly said American Alligator. Here in Kansas. In the pet classifieds.

Since I was in an eccentric frame of mind that day, I thought at first, “Well, that’d be a pretty good guardian animal. It’d solve our raccoon problem and our possum problem. We wouldn’t have to worry about trespassers at all!” (Can you imagine a “Beware of Alligator” sign?)

Then my brain actually lurched into gear and told me “and it would take care of all of your chickens, barn cats, dogs, kids and possibly your horses, too…and you’d still have to find something else to feed it.”

Naturally, if my husband went missing just after I got an alligator, I’d be in hot water. (Of course, I wouldn’t feed him to a gator!)

I remembered a swamp tour near New Orleans where they fed the gators marshmallows to get them to approach the boat. Somehow I don’t think marshmallows are an adequate diet for an alligator. I could shoot it immediately and use the hide and meat, but somehow this person thinks that it’s a pet and would probably be bothered if I did.

I get jumpy enough when the guineas start following me around and pecking my boots if I don’t give them millet. The idea of a “pet” gator following me around waiting for treats gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. Gators can move pretty fast when they want to. I don’t think I want to try a race.

I have to confess to a strange desire to call the person and go see this alligator and its cage. I wonder how big they thought it would get, and why they’re getting rid of it. I have a hard time thinking of it as a pet. It’s an eating machine. My family and other critters are eating machines, too, but at least they aren’t trying to eat me.

Needless to say, Thorn Hill Farm won’t be getting an alligator. I hope the gator in question finds a good home…a long way away from here.


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