A jawless alligator was rescued in Florida, and the injury is more common than you might think, wildlife park director says

  • An alligator that's missing her entire top jaw was rescued in Florida.

  • The director of the park that rescued her says the injury is actually kind of common.

  • But this gator is unique because her injury is a clean cut, possibly caused by a boat propeller.

A wildlife park in Florida rescued a jawless alligator, and her injury is more common than you might think, the park's director says.

The 4-year-old gator, who's missing her entire top jaw, was first discovered in a lake in Sanford, Florida, by residents who posted pictures of her on social media, Mike Hileman, the director of Gatorland wildlife park, told Insider.

He said it took the Florida Wildlife Commission about a month to "wrangle the little thing," but now she's adjusting well to her new home at Gatorland, where she'll receive the care she needs to survive.

Gatorland staff holding up 4-foot-long jawless gator
The 4-year-old alligator weighs about 20 pounds.Gatorland

"She's actually in pretty good condition for the injuries she's got," Hileman told Insider. "We just got to get her some calories. She's kind of malnourished because eating has got to be difficult."

"It's a pretty debilitating injury for an alligator that's left to their own devices in the wild," Hileman added.

Hileman said he believes the gator probably lost her top jaw from a boat propeller, based on how clean and smooth of a cut it was.

And alligators losing one of their jaws is, surprisingly, "actually kind of common," he said. Except usually, when they do, it's from fights with other gators, which leaves a jagged cut with "little bits and pieces that are connected and some that aren't connected."

"I'm amazed," Hileman said of the park's newest gator, which joins two others that are missing their top jaws at the park. "It's a testament to how hardy alligators are. You compare that to some other animals and that's definitely a death sentence to many different animals. But alligators and crocodiles are just so doggone hearty. Even the fact that it didn't get infected, how does it not get infected?"

the jawless alligator up close
The jawless alligator is adjusting to her new home at Gatorland.Gatorland

Hileman said the 20-pound gator appears to be happy in her new environment. Her personality is pretty "laidback" and "calm," he said, adding that she doesn't even thrash around or bite when picked up.

"When I walked into the pen this morning, I just kind of dabbled my fingers in the water, and she didn't come over to me, but she also didn't run away from me, which is a great sign," Hileman said. "So usually alligators that are high-stressed and freaking out — they run away. They try to get away from people. She was just kind of like saying, 'Good morning, I'm here.'"

As for her name, Hileman said the park is still deciding, but some top contenders are Jawlene, Gumdrop, Jaws, or Flapjack.

Read the original article on Insider