Wastewater treatment workers in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh County last week were shocked to discover that a small alligator cocooned in gunk had hitched a ride up a climber screen at the plant.
The unexpected foot-long guest was treated and taken to the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Center, where it is recovering, authorities announced.
ABC’s WNEP News spoke to a wildlife expert, who rescued, fed, and cleaned the scaly visitor, who had minor eye and mouth irritation.
“What they found was a huge boulder of this horrible grease and fat and diapers and rags and everything that accumulates in this very special corkscrew unit and pulls that stuff out of the water, and this boulder of it came up and saw a tail sticking out of it,” wildlife expert, Barbara Miller explained to WNEP.
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While authorities are uncertain exactly how the reptile entered the sewage system, several officials stated that a new pet owner likely regretted their purchase and flushed the creature down the toilet.
Plant officials said the situation was extremely rare.
Photos of the exotic pet, which can be legally owned in the state, were shared on the Lehigh County Authority’s social media accounts.
The WWTP is based in Allentown.
Our wastewater treatment plant team was greeted yesterday morning by this grinning critter. It rode up the climber screen with other solids and survived the journey. It is currently in the care of Pocono Wildlands. What do you think it is? ???? #unexpectedguest pic.twitter.com/kmox8pXLFD
— Lehigh County Authority (@LCAuthority) April 29, 2023
Just a few weeks ago, wastewater treatment plant staff in Minnesota were elbow-deep in solids and grit during routine maintenance when they stumbled upon an unexpected treasure hidden in the sewage: a sparkling diamond ring.