Skip to content

Cop's Encounter With Massive Alligator Turns Out to Be a Prank

It wasn't real.

A Florida police officer was in for less than he bargained for when he discovered what looked like a huge alligator sleeping on a Gulf Coast beach. The officer posed a photo from Treasure Island on May 11, showing him getting no response from tapping the massive reptile on the tail. That's because it wasn't real—the gator turned out to be a carefully crafted prank. 

Gator Seemed to Be Asleep

Treasure Island Police Department/Facebook

"Look at the size of that gator one of our officers tried rounding up on Treasure Island Beach last night!" the Treasure Island Police Department posted on Facebook. "OK, it wasn't a real gator, it was just a crafty crafted sand sculpture." The officer, who wasn't publicly identified, discovered the very lifelike sculpture while patrolling Treasure Island, which is about 28 miles southwest of Tampa. Approximately twice his size, it seemed to be sleeping on the beach. 

Sculpture Flattened to Protect Turtles


Once the officer discovered the sleeping gator was just sand, he flattened it to prevent freaking out any humans and to protect wildlife. May is sea turtle nesting season in Florida, and sand sculptures are among the obstructions that can prevent turtles from digging their nests.  "We love the talented people creating works of art in the sand, but with it being turtle nesting season, remember to flatten sandcastles/sculptures before you leave. The sea turtles will thank you," the police wrote. 

Commenters Respond: "My Breath Left My Body!"

Close-up of woman using smartphone sending emojis.

The post has attracted more than 1,200 reactions, with commenters remarking on the lifelike nature of the work and praising the officer's concern for wildlife.  "Oh my Gosh, for a second there, my breath left my body!" one commenter wrote on the Facebook post.  "Beautiful sand sculpture and thank you for caring about our nesting turtles," one woman wrote. "They have it hard enough without the human barriers blocking them."  One commenter said the sculptor is known in the community. "The mystery artist was back at it again. Makes ya wonder who is this person," she wrote.  "Seeing more and more of them and they're not so little it's really kind of scary especially if you have little kids or animals," another commenter said.

Real 12-Foot Alligator Attacks Dog

American Alligator Swimming in Everglades with colorful reflection in water
Shutterstock / Mark_Kostich

A central Florida couple encountered a very different alligator story this week, when a 12-foot gator attacked their dog when they were out for a walk. A man and woman were walking their pet along the Little Econlockhatchee River when an alligator rushed out of the water and snatched the dog.  The man jumped on top of the huge reptile and pried its jaws open, freeing the pup, WFTV reported. The alligator may have been aggressive because mating season is underway. Florida wildlife officials are warning pet owners not to walk their animals near any bodies of water this time of year, especially at dawn or dusk.

Trapper: "We Stay Kind of Busy"


Alligator trapper Jerry Flynn told WSVN that the Florida river seemed to have more than its share of large alligators. His nephew trapped the alligator that attacked the couple's dog.  "It seems like the Econ does hold a lot of alligators," Flynn told the station. "A lot of them are in the neighborhoods and when the retention ponds get low or hot, then they tend to go back into the Econ. So we stay kind of busy."


Filed Under