An orange alligator spotted in a pond in Hanahan has residents scratching their heads and wondering — is it an albino, a Clemson fan or simply covered in dry clay?
A post about the strangely colored reptile took off this week on the Tanner Plantation and Foster Creek Community Facebook page. Commenters speculated on how the alligator got its color, with many saying it was nothing but a coat of dry clay, which is abundant in the area.
Others made jokes.
"It's a Trumpagator," one commenter said.
"I guess he used too much self tanner?!?!" another said.
Still another wrote, "It's the Trumpagator of Self-Tanner Plantation."
When one resident wrote that the color came from sand and dirt at the bottom of the pond another quipped, "No, those are alternative facts. (I'm just teasing)."
The animal is located in a pond near the BI-LO on Tanner Ford Boulevard, said Hanahan resident Stephen Tatum.
Tatum, who has lived in the area for the last year, took his camera with a zoom lens and grabbed a quick photo on Tuesday.
"I just thought, 'What the hell is that?' " he said.
The gator was seen sunning by the pond Thursday afternoon. Its orange hue had begun to fade.
Kent A. Vliet, an alligator biologist at the University of Florida, said he does not believe this animal's color is the result of a genetic abnormality.
"I have no doubt that animal is stained somehow," Vliet said. "He's the color of rust."
Albino or leucistic alligators are completely white, he said. Other colors, like reddish-orange, are possible but usually present in patches. The rest of the animal will have normal coloration.
The animal's Cheeto-colored skin should return to normal over time if it doesn't return to the environment that stained it, Vliet said.
"It'll either wash off or leach off in the water," he said.
And if the stain stubbornly clings on in spots, alligators do shed their skin, Vliet said.
While the "Trumpagator" doesn't appear to be a rare genetic variant, there's no doubt that its orange skin is an instant talking point.
"Holy mackerel," Vliet said after first seeing a photo of the animal. "That's even more orange than the last one I saw."