A North Charleston family woke up Monday morning to an unwelcome guest knocking on their front door: A confused 7-foot alligator had taken up residence on their porch.
And although the alligator was missing one if its front legs, it was still hissing and was strong enough to have broken out a section of porch railings.
Louise Monteith, who lives with her husband Charles and their three children on Waltham Road, heard the banging around 4:30 a.m. Monday. She said she blamed her three dogs and three cats for the noise and went back to sleep.
Her husband, though, got up to investigate, she said.
He opened the blinds, and that's when he saw the alligator.
"He came running back upstairs cursing up a storm, and that's what I woke up to," Louise said. "I thought someone had stolen all the cars."
"We're really lucky it happened when it did," Louise said. "Two hours later and my daughter would have walked out that door ... and probably would have stepped on it."
How did the alligator end up on the porch in the first place?
Louise said there's a least two houses between theirs and any body of water.
Her neighbors heard banging on their air-conditioner unit, and they suspect the alligator was the culprit there, too.
She said they have been teasing her 16-year-old son, Pat, joking that he lured the alligator to their home because he left his wet swim trunks and underwear on the porch after taking a dip in the lake the evening before.
Ron Russell, the owner of Gator Getters, said his son Ronnie was the one who removed the alligator from the Monteith family's porch.
Video shows the alligator spinning to put up a fight once his jaws were bound.
The gator weighed about 100 pounds, Russell estimated.
He said there are ponds scattered all over the neighborhood and just beyond, and the alligator could have come from any of them.
He explained that the quick change to warm weather has kicked Lowcountry alligators' mating season into high gear.
"Typically the males move around," he said. "They're trying to move around a lot right now."
If they make a wrong turn, "they get trapped, and they get confused, then they get ticked off," he said.
That appears to be what happened Monday morning, explained Russell.
And for this alligator, it meant that he had to be killed.
Russell said it might surprise people to know how many alligators are actually roaming around neighborhoods at night.
"There are tons of alligators that move around at night that we never see," he said. "Unless they get penned up or caught up, they generally move through our neighborhoods without anybody knowing."