Washington State University veterinarians caring for confiscated crocodilian
PULLMAN, Wash. — In a rarity for the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, doctors are currently caring for a confiscated alligator.
The several foot long alligator was brought in by officers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, after State Patrol Troopers found it with its owner on a stop.
“An alligator is classified as dangerous wildlife by the RCW and the State of Washington,” said DFW officer Grant Silver, “they are illegal to keep as pets.”
He says when illegal animals, especially potentially dangerous ones, are confiscated there are two options.
“We either have to send it to a rehabilitation facility or euthanize it,” he said. “None of this is the alligators fault, so we want to make sure if we can, that we bring it to a spot where it can be healthy and live a good life.”
After Silver brought the alligator in, WSU veterinarian Dr. Nickol Finch was tasked with determining the age of the alligator, as upon confiscation, the owner claimed it was an old alligator that would have been grandfathered into the states dangerous wildlife laws.
To do that, x-rays were needed to determine whether or not the alligator’s growth plates had closed and to diagnose the reptiles overall health.
Growth plates on this gator had closed, however Finch wasn’t sold on the old gator claim, given that this one still had baby stripes.
Heath wise, it was also in decent shape as a blood test and scan on bone density indicated.
“Often times with exotic animals that aren’t being fed properly, they will get hypocalcemia where their bones becomes soft and break, ” said Finch.
She says it can be tempting, and that it is far too easy to order a reptile like an alligator from online, but the inches long youngster quickly grows.
“They can potentially grow to be ten to 14 to 18 feet long and eat humans,” she said.
In addition to an up to $2,000 dollar fine per illegal animal, all the care for this alligator at WSU will also be billed to his owners.
“They will be responsible for the cost,” said Silver.
It’s a good reminder for potential pet owners, said Finch.
“Do your research, make sure you know how to take care of what you are getting, and make sure it’s legal to have where you are,” she said.
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