Meet ‘The Professigator’

Student Holding AlligatorReady for their close up are senior environmental studies major Kat Studley ’13 and a baby American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) known as “The Professigator.”

It is illegal to possess an American Alligator without the appropriate state permits, which is how the little reptile ended up in the care of Dr. Ben Jellen, assistant professor of biology. Seized from the home of someone who had acquired and kept it illegally, the Conservation Police and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources turned the animal over to Dr. Jellen for educational use. It now lives in a padlocked, rock and water-filled trough in Voigt Science Hall.

Jonathan Samples ’14 suggested the winning name in a campuswide contest that drew over 30 clever entries. Whether the gator is a he or a she is unknown; like turtles and crocodiles,the sex is determined by the temperature inside the nest at birth.

“The Professigator” dines twice a week on ground beef, fish, mice, and an occasional grilled chicken sandwich.

The American Alligator is North America’s largest reptile, measuring 10 to 13 inches upon hatching and growing two to 12 inches a year, to an average adult size of 13 feet and 500 pounds.

When McKendree’s baby reptilein-residence outgrows its campus home, it will live out its natural life in captivity, outdoors in Missouri.