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DO NOT FEED HENRY…consider yourself warned

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By Lee Scott

Eleven years ago, my husband and I purchased a parcel of real estate just outside of Beaufort. The property overlooked a small freshwater pond. There on the edge of the pond was a small wooden sign. “Do not feed Henry.” I did not think about the sign until later when we were walking around with our dogs, a large yellow lab and a young cocker spaniel and I noticed a huge alligator sunning on the bank of the pond. “Goodness that is a big alligator.” I said. “That is Henry.” said our neighbor.

We eventually sold the lot and bought a house a few blocks away from that freshwater pond. It was not because I was afraid of Henry, more that I was worried that Henry might like my little cocker spaniel. Nowadays, I drive by the pond where Henry still sunbathes. Although truthfully, I am not sure it is Henry. I decided to get some questions answered, one of them being; could that healthy looking reptile sunbathing be Henry after all? I found the following information on the South Carolina Parks website – www.southcarolinaparks.com which might be valuable to those of you that are new to the area. It is believed that most alligators have a life span of around thirty to fifty years. Most of them do not get over thirteen feet although one found in Louisiana was over nineteen feet. Their weight is generally around six hundred pounds, but could top one thousand pounds. The website also says that the alligators like to come out between dusk and dawn, so probably not a good time to go swimming in your pond. And since they breed between March and July, it is best to avoid them completely during this time. The spring is also the time of the year that you will notice them more since they climb out of the cold water and lie on the sunny side of the ponds.

So I have decided that the alligator sunbathing there is Henry. He looks about thirteen feet long and probably weighs over six hundred pounds and is at least eleven years old. Now if you are inclined to feed them, please do not. Alligators overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. Pay attention to the signs, and please DO NOT FEED HENRY!

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