Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Alligator of Cross Plains

I came across an interesting story about an out of place animal today. The Abilene Reporter-News reported an alligator was killed just outside the town of Cross Plains, Texas. You can access the story here. Now this may not seem remarkable on the surface as alligators are not only natural but common in the lone star state. What is remarkable is that Cross Plains is located in Callahan County not too far southeast of Abilene. This area is all but a desert.

Dick Vestal and his son Chris had been telling people they had spotted an alligator in one of their stock tanks (that would be a pond to any non-Texan readers). Predictably, nobody believed them. The elder Vestal claims to have first spotted the creature about three years ago and continued to spot the gator every two or three weeks as it moved back and forth between stock tanks.

The alligator's stay on the Vestal property came to an abrupt end this week, however, when it was shot and killed by a passerby who spotted it in a roadside ditch about a quarter of a mile from the latest tank it had called home. Dick Vestal was pleased that he and his son's stories of the gator had been proven true but a bit distressed that the animal had been killed. "We watched that rascal grow," Vestal said. " I imagine someone just had a pet that got too big for them, and they turned it loose-and it ended up out there in my stock tank."

Dick Vestal may or may not be right in his theory of how the gator came to live in his stock tank. The gator was at least a couple of hundred miles farther west than it should have been. It just goes to show that sometimes reports of animals in places they aren't supposed to be turn out to be true.

Are tales of cougars in central Texas, jaguars in south Texas, or black bears in east Texas any more unlikely than an alligator in arid Cross Plains? What about the "ghost grizzlies" of the South San Juan Wilderness in Colorado or the wolverines of Washington State? Unlikely? Definitely. Impossible? Certainly not. I read just yesterday of a Florida panther that was shot and killed in Alabama. These cats are not supposed to exist outside of the south-central portion of the state. So, the next time you hear about an animal roaming about in an area where it isn't supposed to exist, think back on the unlikely tale of the alligator of Cross Plains, Texas and keep an open mind. You just never know.


  1. Hello, I am from Cross Plains, tx. My step-dad manages a ranch in Cross-Cut about 10 miles from Cross Plains and he shot an alligator in a tank on the ranch. He usually shoots turtles to keep the fish population up. He didn't know it was alligator untill it came up on the bank. Crazy.

  2. Also I must add that at my house we have seen "panthers" My cousin was actually attacked by one when he was driving to our house. He is disabled and has been for a long time. He can't walk well and he uses a cane everywhere he goes. He also drives an off road Yerf Dog. Like a golf cart except gas powered and loud! He lives about 2 miles away. He stopped in a ditch off the side of the road to pee and grab a can of beer. When he sat back in the driver seat of the Yerf Dog he was literately "Tackled" and mauled. He said that he hit the huge black cat in the face a few times before he passed out from the excitement. When he woke up a few sec. later he managed to get into the Yerf Dog and drive to our house. He came through the door and his jacket was tore from claw marks. He had scratches on his chest clearley from a HUGE cat. It was really quite scary. Let's just say that I didn't walk down my long driveway anymore.


  3. Jessica,

    So this would be a separate incident? One alligator in this area is pretty remarkable. Two would be amazing. Have you heard other similar stories?

  4. Jessica,

    Was the panther attack your cousin suffered reported to the sheriff's office or any other authoriites? When did this occur? I would love to hear a description of the cat itself and get the location.

  5. lol. I'm going to leave a million comments. Ok so one more little detail. I went down to the culvert where my cousin got attacked with my neighbor and there were Big Cat tracks under there in the mud.

  6. Can we communicate by email? I would like that rather than posting Comments. my email is ""

    Thank you Mike.

  7. here is big cat caught on game cam in cross cut

  8. Daryl, no photo came through. Please attach it to an email and send to I look forward to seeing it.

  9. if you want to see a 20'gator I can tell you its approximate location it lives in George bush park in Houston near where mason creek and buffalo bayou intersect.there is a small oxbow lake to the south of that location where it enters buffalo bayou is where "Albert"lives I saw him take the head of a feral hog clean off during the drought and spent the next six years trying to get a good picture of him I have only one shot of him from 300 yards away some how when you get close he jumps in the water sounds like a large tree falling in I'm going to guess hes at least 100 years old don't want any harm to come to hyim cause he belongs there.thanks love your site