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6-foot-long alligator pounded on front door

Guess who's coming to dinner?
Couple shun scaly visitor
BY BEN CRITES, The Island Packet
Published Wednesday, June 7, 2006
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SUN CITY HILTON HEAD -- Use the peephole. You never know who -- or what -- will knock on your front door.

For the Lorettas, it was a big "what" that came a knockin' at their Sun City Hilton Head home Friday night.

A 6-foot-long alligator pounded on the front door of their Penny Creek Drive home at around 7:45 p.m. and started scaling the wall at the entryway -- its front left claw inches from the doorbell.

"It looked like he was going to ring the doorbell," said Roslyn Loretta, describing the scene from her viewpoint behind the door. "This alligator was aggressive. It really left me a little shaken afterward."

Loretta blames teriyaki chicken for the unexpected visit.

She and her husband, Robert, were barbecuing on the screened-in porch behind their home when they first noticed the reptile. It was facing them on the banks of a lagoon, its eyes focused on them and its mouth wide open.

"It was smelling the food, I guess," Roslyn Loretta said.

While eating dinner inside, the Lorettas noticed the gator had crept to the side of their house. Minutes later, it was lying by a mailbox across the street and was all the hubbub among the neighbors.

About 10 of them were in the street watching it, some snapping pictures. The crowd appeared to spook the gator, which ran across the street and into the garage of the Lorettas' home and then to their front door.

"If he had turned around, I'd be gone in a hurry," said Richard Holinski, a resident of the same street who snapped a photograph of the alligator with a telephoto lens from about 30 feet away.

Holinski said that soon after, the gator scampered to the side of the house and took off "like a rocket" back into the lagoon. It was gone by the time Sun City security arrived.

"You get oddball behavior from alligators this time of year when it's dry and fresh water is at a premium," said Dean Harrigal, a wildlife biologist for the state Department of Natural Resources. "Certainly the smell (of teriyaki chicken) had something to do with it."

The Lorettas had to clean up some dirt and scales left on their front door.

"I'm just glad he's gone," Robert Loretta said.

http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/story/5795583p-5177866c.html

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