6-foot alligator freed after being stuck in drainpipe for several months

Alligator

HILTON HEAD, S.C. — An alligator stuck in a drainpipe in a coastal South Carolina community was finally freed after approximately six months.

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The 6-foot reptile had been immobile in the 12-inch pipe in the Port Royal Plantation residential community in Hilton Head, The Island Packet reported. The gator was first observed with its snout poking out of a roadside grate on South Port Royal Drive in October 2023, according to the newspaper.

Matt Kraycar, who runs K&K Wildlife Services in nearby Bluffton, rescued the alligator on April 11, The Island Packet reported. Although the reptile sustained moderate injuries, it was released into a Hilton Head lagoon and is expected to recover.

Kraycar successfully freed the alligator by wiggling and gently pulling the reptile from the pipe, according to WSAV-TV.

“I’ve had them in drainage pipes before, but I’ve never seen one in (a pipe) this small before,” Kraycar told The Island Packet. “It was only a 12-inch pipe, and its body was kind of smashed in there.”

Kraycar speculated that the alligator became wedged in the tight space and was unable to turn back around.

After removing the metal grate, Kraycar pulled the alligator to freedom with a catchpole, a restraining tool that can be looped around the animal’s neck and tightened, according to the newspaper.

Kraycar said it took about 10 minutes to free the gator.

He added that the alligator became stuck at a good time because it could brumate, WSAV reported. According to the South Carolina Aquarium, when alligators brumate, their metabolic rate slows down and they become lethargic. Their inactivity saves energy, according to the aquarium.

“It might not have been a bad time for it to happen,” Kraycar said. “It was probably going in and out of (dormant periods), which helped it stay healthier rather than just being down there in the summer starving to death.”

The alligator did not look malnourished, Kraycar told The Island Packet, but some of its skin had been rubbed off because of its cramped quarters. He was unsure of the reptile’s gender but estimated it to be approximately 6 years old.

The animal was happy to hustle into the lagoon when it was freed.

“He kind of hobbled off a little bit, but gators are so strong -- I don’t think he’ll have any issues,” Kraycar told The Island Packet.

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