Hanahan residents suspect the gator spent the winter curled up inside a rusty pipe

By Saryn Chorney
February 09, 2017 05:47 PM

There may be 50 shades of gray, but according to Wikipedia, there are 46 shades of orange — and an alligator spotted in Hanahan, South Carolina, is sporting quite the tangerine-hued hide.

A woman named Laura Carson snapped a photo of the “4 to 5-foot-long” alligator and posted it on Facebook on Feb. 7 with the caption, “So, there’s an orange alligator at the pond in front of our neighborhood…You don’t see that everyday.”

Residents are speculating about what caused the alligator to go green. All jokes aside about Clemson fans, Trump supporters, Cheetos and Pumpkin Spice Latte addicts, WBCD News 2 interviewed herpetologist Josh Zalabak who thinks there may be an environmental cause.

“Algae – maybe some pollutant in the water, but it’s hard to say unless the water is tested,” said Zalabak.

Meanwhile South Carolina’s Alligator Program Coordinator thinks the color is due to rust, i.e. iron oxide, from a steel pipe.

Other scientists have suggested the gator will shed its skin, as the animals regularly do, and return to its natural shade soon enough (which could even be an albino white).

According to a 2011 article in the Christian Science Monitor about a previous orange alligator found in Florida,the color probably derives “from paint, stain, iron oxide or some other element in the environment that has left a coating on the animal, making it appear orange.”

We wish this gator the best of luck and hope it meets a pink dolphin, blue lobster or purple squirrel in its travels through life.