RIVERSIDE – Casey Singleton was riding with his mother along Sugar Farm Road when he spotted what he and his mother now believe was an alligator.
“Stop, there’s an alligator,” he told his mother.
The 11-year-old Ragland boy convinced his mother to stop her car, and she backed the vehicle to the spot where her son said he spotted a gator in Huckleberry Pond.
“At first, it looked like a log, but logs don’t swim,” said Jerri Singleton. “Sure enough, it was an alligator.”
She said her son has always been interested in alligators, especially since one was spotted in Riverside four years ago.
“Every time we go through Riverside, he’s looking for an alligator,” she said.
Singleton said the two were traveling on Sugar Farm Road because her husband said it was quicker way to get Casey to summer camp, rather than driving along Depot Street.
It was about 8 a.m. Friday. The sky was overcast.
Casey pointed to where he and his mother saw the gator.
“She got to about right here, and that’s when it took off underneath the water,” Casey said.
Singleton estimated that the gator was about five feet long.
“It was big enough, if it bit you, it would hurt you,” she said.
They said the pond water was almost up to the road because of recent rain.
Singleton said she did have a camera in the car, but she wasn’t quick enough to get a picture.
“I just wished I had my camera ready,” she said.
Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup said he’s not surprised that someone spotted another gator in Riverside.
He said he could see someone spotting a gator lurking in small remote area ponds or in back of sloughs or creeks that feed into the Coosa River.
“Alligator Creek didn’t get its name from raccoons,” Jessup said.
Alligator Creek is below Neely Henry Dam, on the opposite side of the river.
However, just four years ago an estimated 8-foot-long alligator was seen by several people and photographed by The Daily Home as it swam in the Riverside Marina slough, just across from Riverside City Hall.
Conservation officials unsuccessfully tried to capture the gator.
Jessup said it is possible alligators may venture into the river during the warmer spring and summer months, looking for a mate.
“They can’t flourish here (Logan Martin Lake),” he said. “The winter is too cold.”
Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officer Jason Bassett said alligators have been captured and relocated from all counties surrounding St. Clair County.
He said about seven or eight years ago, an alligator was found alongside U.S. 231 near the Old Coal City area, just north of Pell City. The reptile was captured and removed by state game officials.
“It’s possible they saw one,” Bassett said.
He said alligators are plentiful only an hour away from St. Clair County.
“We get more sightings in the areas from Riverside, north,” Bassett said.
The northern portion of Logan Martin Lake is less populated with people.
He said people should never feed any alligator.
“The worst thing people can do is start feeding them,” Bassett said. “They lose their fear and will start coming around.”
He said alligators are generally very shy and avoid human contact.
Bassett said people sometimes mistake other animals for alligators.
“People don’t realize how big a beaver can get,” he said. “Beavers can get 80-100 pounds.”
Bassett said alligators are protected under federal and state laws, and there are limited hunting opportunities for alligators in certain areas of the state.
As for Casey, the youngster is just glad he finally saw a gator up close and personal.
“I always wanted to see an alligator,” he said.