‘I owe you a new broom’: Hillsborough County deputy gives gator ‘joyride’ back to pond on broomstick

A Hillsborough County deputy has a new nickname after relocating two gators in one month back to the water.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Deputy Wheaton is now being affectionately called ‘Crocodile Dun-Wheatee’ after helping a 10-foot gator back to the water at the beginning of April and then giving a four-foot gator a ride back to a pond at the end of the month.

HCSO says the Wheaton, along with two other deputies, recently responded to a report of a gator sleeping under a car in a residential neighborhood. The gator had wandered from a nearby pond.

While Deputy Wheaton was trying to navigate the gator back to the pond with a broom, the reptile latched on and went for a ‘joyride’ back to the water. Deputies say nobody was injured. 

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The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office wants to remind residents that it is mating season and in general, gators become more visible and active during the spring and summer.

FWC provides the following safety tips when it comes to alligators:

Generally, alligators less than four feet in length are not large enough to be dangerous unless handled. However, if you encounter any alligator that you believe poses a threat to people, pets or property, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWCGATOR (866-392-4286). Please be aware, nuisance alligators are killed, not relocated. 

Later, gator: FWC wants you to watch out for crocodiles, too

Alligators and Florida are nearly synonymous, especially this time of year. But Florida’s wildlife agency is reminding residents to be on the lookout for crocodiles as well.

Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water. Bites may occur when people do not pay close enough attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water. 

Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas or in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators. 

Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Therefore, avoid swimming at night. 

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Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators.

Dogs often attract an alligator’s interest, so do not swim with your dog. 

Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.

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10-foot alligator found underneath car at Tampa apartment complex

"The caller advised there was a pond nearby, but this was no small gator... it was 10'2'!!!" the sheriff's office wrote.