GRESHAM — The alligator captured Sunday after it got dumped in a Gresham pond now has a new home in a reptile refuge outside Molalla.
Richard Ritchey said the alligator was relaxing in a warm tub of water Monday, after a busy weekend.
With just his bare hands, a man who calls himself 'The Reptile Man,' managed to wrangle in the wayward alligator that had eluded Multnomah County Animal Control officers for days.
"I approached him from the bank and he shot out into the middle of the pond like a torpedo,” said Ritchey as he held the alligator in his hands.
Ritchey has more than 100 reptiles in a converted climate-controlled out building on his property. County officials checked out his facility Monday and said it was safe and legal.
The not-so-little gator had been dumped at the Gresham pond. Animal Control had previously set a trap, baited with chicken, but the gator wasn't interested.
"They don't eat in the winter," said Ritchey. "It's too cold for them to digest food. I knew the only way you were going to catch him was going to jump on him and grab him."
So that's exactly what he did.
"I grabbed his tail, that way I could manipulate him right and left to keep him from biting me. He was hissing, he was rolling, he was snapping his jaws. And he came very close a couple times."
Background: Alligator spotted in Gresham pond
Once on shore, Ritchey, with the help of a bystander, taped the gators mouth shut and loaded it in his truck.
He brought the gator by the KGW Studios Sunday before heading over to Animal Control. His hope is that county officials will let the gator stay with him at his reptile sanctuary, in Colton.
Monday, county animal control officials said this was a good outcome for the gator. It should be noted that his refuge is in Clackamas County. Multnomah County has an ordinance against keeping gators as pets.
"I'd love to keep him because I love to keep animals that have a story behind them."
Ritchey said he travels 45,000 miles a year teaching people about his unusual "pets" at reptile shows.