A female alligator that was found with her mouth taped shut and may have even been prevented from hunting for several weeks, has been rescued by Florida wildlife authorities.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) confirmed to Fox News Digital that members of its Division of Law Enforcement and State Nuisance Alligator Program captured and relocated the restricted alligator on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The five-foot-seven-inch-long alligator was found in a neighborhood retention pond in Brandon, an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Law enforcement officers and a trapper made “several attempts” to capture the alligator in “recent days,” according to a news alert released by the FWC.
The alligator was relocated to Gatorama, a local alligator farm and visitor attraction in Palmdale, Florida.
“We are pleased the alligator was safely relocated,” said Rob Rowe, the FWC’s southwest regional commander major, in a statement.
“Our priority is public safety and the FWC administers the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program to proactively address alligator incidents in developed areas, while conserving them in areas where they naturally occur,” Rowe continued.
Local news affiliate FOX 13 Tampa Bay reported that a woman from Hillsborough County claims the alligator has been living with her mouth taped shut since December 2022, and it likely happened after a failed trapping attempt.
While it‘s currently unknown for certain if the female alligator that was rescued and relocated is the exact one that was spotted in December, wildlife records shared by reptile specialists state that alligators can go long periods without eating.
TotalReptile.com, an online reptile care guide maintained by a reptile breeder, has reported that adult alligators can survive one to three years without food.
“Ideally, alligators can go one whole year without food, but yes, in extreme situations they can starve for up to 2 to 3 years,” an excerpt from TotalReptile.com states. “Alligators are ectothermic; they have a slow metabolism and can control their heart rate to survive long periods of starvation, freezing and dark conditions.”
Despite having the ability to survive long periods without food, alligators left with taped mouths for extended periods of time can suffer a list of adverse effects.
Martha Frassica-Rivera, general manager and animal curator at the Everglades Outpost Wildlife Sanctuary in Homestead, Florida, told FOX 13 Tampa Bay that an alligator with a taped mouth can suffer body mass loss, dehydration and irritated skin.