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Alligator vectors

With five small ponds around their house, Jeanette Hostetler, my host’s mother, was telling me how they hear the alligators calling in the mating season. The bull alligators make an extremely loud sound that she was only able to describe as something between a deep bark and a roar. Mark describes it as a lawnmower trying to start up. Then the female will respond and they find each other. Jeanette kept hearing these sounds very nearby as she went out walking but was at a loss to see where they were coming from, as there were no gators in sight. One day, she happened to be passing a stormwater grate and heard the gator mating calls issuing forth – followed by the unmistakable sounds of the animal heading off down the sewer towards its potential mate! Apparently they normally make their way to each other and from pond to pond by walking overland – something I find rather startling in a suburban context… Fortunately for infrastructure maintenance staff, it is comparatively rare for alligators to use the storm sewers as a transit system. Other animals do use them a lot, though – so you’re much more likely to see the friendly face of a cute raccoon poking out of the outfall.

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