A public works crew in Florida received a scaly surprise while investigating a stormwater pipe on Lockwood Boulevard in the city of Oviedo last week.
The crew had been called to look into a series of potholes that had appeared in the roadway. Using a four-wheeled remote-control robot with a built-in camera, the team scrutinized the underground piping for any defects or blockages, only to discover a 5-foot alligator blocking the drains.
“At first, they thought it was a toad and in the video, you see two little glowing eyes until you get closer—but when it turned around, they saw the long tail of the alligator and followed it through the pipes,” the Oviedo’s City Administration said in a Facebook post.
The footage shows the alligator sitting in the water at the bottom of the pipe before turning around and waddling away from the camera.
The robot can then be seen following the reptile through the stormwater pipe for roughly 340 feet before getting stuck on a small notch in the piping, allowing the gator to get away.
“Just another reason not to go wandering down into the Stormwater pipes,” the City Administration said. “Thank goodness our crews have a robot.”
Florida is home to over 1.3 million alligators, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The average size of an American alligator is 8.2 feet for a female and 11.2 feet for a male, as estimated by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The Florida Wildlife Commission says any gator over 4 feet is a potential threat to people, pets and property.
Alligators are mostly found in swamps, marshes, rivers and wetlands, although they do occasionally get into residential areas and drainage systems.
As alligator mating season comes into full swing, the males are becoming more mobile and more territorial, meaning they are much more likely to venture into urban areas.
The alligator in the stormwater pipe likely entered the drainage system through one of the city’s many stormwater ponds, which are intended to prevent flooding in the area during severe storms.
The city’s stormwater crew is tasked with maintaining these ponds and the approximately 75 miles of storm pipes that run underneath Oviedo’s streets.
The video, posted on Tuesday afternoon, has received thousands of views on Facebook. “Oh wow scary,” commented one user.
“Good on the operator for giving it time and not panicking it,” said another.