Dunstable reptile shop, Wrigglies, were paid a special visit by ITV’s Good Morning Britain, as they filmed the store’s resident American Alligator.
Female alligator, Brian, along with her handler, Julian Clare, were greeted by a camera crew on May 15, as the ITV team were covering a story about a rare American Alligator attack in Orlando and wanted to learn more about the species.
The team were running a feature on Juliana Ossa, 10, who survived being bitten on the leg by the reptile whilst she was sitting in a lake, pushing her fingers up the alligator’s nostrils and prying its jaws open, a technique she learned at Gatorland, Florida.
Handler, Julian Clare, who is also the manager of Wrigglies, Leighton Buzzard, said: “We were up at half past three and doing rehearsals by half past six or seven o clock!
“Gatorland’s advice worked but on the other hand it could have worked to the contrary.
“Alligators tend to feed in a frenzy and it could have attracted other alligators. It is also likely that it realised Juliana was a strange food item and dropped the young girl.
“She did well to stay calm.
“Alligators are deemed a nuisance, but we are building further into their natural territories - we’re the nuisance.”
Julian advises not putting yourself in a vulnerable position, for example, staying away from water if alligators are known to inhabit the area.
Julian said: “Brian was rescued from the continent; she was kept in far from ideal conditions and used for filming.
“If I handle her I like to have her back in the enclosure within seven minutes. I don’t use a catch pole, as these are quite rough, but use a ‘wet catch’ to get her out of the water with my bare hands.
“The water has a cushioning effect around her body.”
Brian, aged 12, is six and a half feet long, and is fed poultry, crabs and crayfish.
Unfortunately, Wrigglies had to miss their live slot on Good Morning Britain as the programme was overrunning, but their video is online.