By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | February 10, 2017 01:15pm ET
A predatory beast with leathery orange skin is gallivanting through social media, sowing fear in its wake.
That's because there have been recent sightings of a tangerine-colored alligator in South Carolina.
Earlier this week, members of a residential community in Hanahan, South Carolina, spotted an unusual sight near one of the retention ponds — an alligator with skin tinted an orange hue. Estimated to be 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) long, the apricot alligator was nicknamed "Trumpigator" by its human neighbors, local television newscast WCBD News 2 reported.
The carrot-colored crocodilian is most likely an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) — the only crocodilian native to South Carolina — which can live to be more than 60 years old and reach lengths of up to 13 feet (4 m), according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).
Earlier this week, the gator was photographed basking on the bank near a pond, its bright orange skin standing out in sharp contrast to the patchy brown grass. Several Facebook commenters joked that the alligator must be a fan of the Tigers football team at Clemson University, South Carolina, which has an orange logo and uniforms.
But alligators don't paint themselves in pumpkin palettes to show sports allegiances or to look tanned for television cameras. So what might have turned this alligator the unexpected hue? One explanation might be rust, iron oxide, from a steel culvert where the alligator was hiding out during the winter, an SCDNR representative tweeted.