April 20, 2014

Elyria
Mostly sunny
75°F
test

Gator gone wild in Elyria

Pet alligator escapes cage

ELYRIA — A missing baby alligator has residents on one Elyria street sticking close to home while the creature wanders inside drainage ditches.

An empty cage behind a Lucille Drive home once contained an 18-inch baby alligator, but now the animal is on the loose. It peeks its head out from the ditch sometimes but is mostly out of sight, residents said.

JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
One of Nancy Quayle’s pet alligators basks in her backyard on Lucille Drive in Elyria on Friday.

But that doesn’t mean they want the reptile roaming around the neighborhood.

“My wife’s afraid,” said Doy Elder. “It sort of blends into the grass and was just laying there on the bank of our ditch when she came out the other day.”

Nancy Quayle said her pet alligator has been missing for about two days, but she is confident she will find it soon.

“He’ll be home caged when it’s time to feed it.

“I’ve had two before this,” she said. “They’re easy to take care of, and they don’t take much work.”

Keeping an alligator as a pet is not against any city ordinances. There were restrictions on keeping wildlife and farm animals passed last year, but the law was repealed later in the year.

“City ordinances are written around dogs at the moment,” said Dave Oakes, director of environmental health for the Elyria Health Department. “As long as people maintain them and they are not creating a public nuisance, there is little that can be done. But people do need to keep in mind that wildlife can be unpredictable.”

That’s why some residents of Lucille Drive are stepping gingerly when they are outside their home, and imaginations are running wild on what could happen if the alligator isn’t caught.

However, if you think the animal will lurk beneath the city feeding on whatever it can until crawls up your toilet or grows to the size of a monster and breaks through the ground on a hunt for larger prey, you will be mistaken.

Something like that has never happened, Oakes said.

“Alligator,” a horror flick circa 1980, this is not.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.