Some who have seen it describe its skin color as apricot, some say its color is tangerine, others describe it as carrot-colored, others say rust, and still others say it’s the color of a pumpkin. They all agree it’s an alligator with orange-colored skin.
Members of the Tanner Plantation residential community in Hanahan, South Carolina (S.C.), have seen the four to five foot long alligator several times, sunning itself on the banks of one of the community’s retention ponds, where its orange skin contrasted greatly with the patchy brown grass. After the alligator’s photo was posted on Facebook, there were several jokes that the alligator must be a fan of the Clemson University (S.C.) football team, which has an orange logo. Residents of Tanner Plantation joke the alligator used too much sun-tan lotion; they have nicknamed him “Trumpigator”.
Experts do not believe the orange color is genetic, but is caused by environmental factors. Jay Butfiloski of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources told reporters that the color could have come from where the alligator stayed in the winter, such as in or near a rusty steel drainage pipe. Josh Zalabak, a S.C. aquarium herpetologist, said the color could be caused by algae, or some pollutant in the water. However, he said the water would need to be tested before such a definitive explanation could be given.
Zalabak said if the discoloration is only skin-deep, it should disappear in a few weeks, when the alligator sheds its skin. The new skin will be a normal color.