Alligators outlasted the dinosaurs. They even managed to survive the threat of us humans, making it off the endangered species list almost 15 years ago. But every once in awhile, a gator is born without pigmentation in its skin. Albino alligators are unable to camouflage themselves, so they are usually eaten by predators soon after birth. If they do survive to adulthood, their skin is easily damaged by direct sunlight; essentially, these alligators have to be indoors. Luckily, one of these unique animals is getting that chance at the S.C. Aquarium.
Members of the media, along with curious and excited families, got a first glimpse at this rarity of nature — one of only 50 in the world — on Friday morning. According to Aquarium employee Elizabeth Bender, the albino is about 10 years old and should live another two or three decades. He’ll stay in Charleston permanently or until he grows too large for his Blackwater Swamp habitat (which has its own simulated thunderstorms). Bender believes the aquarium’s acquisition will give visitors both the chance to see something new and learn more about the reptiles.
The Aquarium hammed it up for its guests, featuring a table of alligator-shaped treats and even a life-sized, furry version of the creature. Not so kid-friendly: the table of deceased rodents, birds, and fish to exemplify what the little fella eats once a week. He’s fed a couple of pounds of the stuff at a time, and they like to change the amount and the variety so that he doesn’t get too bored with his cuisine.
The gator may look cute now, but it’ll double in size (from seven-and-a-half feet to around 15). They don’t make good pets, you know. And you can’t just flush this guy down a toilet.