Large alligator bursts through woman’s screen door, relaxes in kitchen


VENICE, Fla. — A Florida woman who heard a rattling noise coming from the front screen door of her home thought someone was trying to get into the wrong house.

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That “someone” turned out to be a nearly 8-foot-long alligator.

Mary Hollenback, of Venice, heard the noise on March 28 while she was relaxing at her home in the city’s Grand Palm community, WFLA-TV reported.

“So, I’m sitting on my sofa. It’s late in the afternoon. I’m just watching TV, and I heard my front door rattle, my screen door,” Hollenback told the television station. “And I thought somebody who didn’t live here was trying to come in, thinking that they were probably in the wrong house because that happens frequently. So, by the time I got up and went near the front door, the gator was already inside.”

Hollenback said two thoughts immediately came to mind.

“One is, ‘Oh my gosh, I have an alligator in my house,’ and No. 2 is, ‘Oh my gosh, I have an alligator in my house; how am I going to get rid of him?’” Hollenback told WTVT.

A quick 911 call was in order, but Hollenback said she had a problem. Her phone was on the counter, very close to the large reptile, WFLA reported.

“The only thing I could think to do was to call 911, but my phone was sitting on the end of the counter,” Hollenback told the television station. “So, I had to get a little bit closer to him, grabbed my phone, and then went on the lanai and called 911.”

While Hollenback called for help, the alligator, which measured 7 feet, 11 inches, had moved from her hallway and rested on a rug in her galley-style kitchen.

Two Sarasota County sheriff’s deputies and three Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers came into Hollenback’s home to remove the wayward gator, WFLA reported.

“I have to say those guys were awesome. They were so calm, so cool, so professional,” Hollenback told WTVT. They just acted like, ‘Alligator in the house … no big deal.’ Case closed.”

So how did the alligator manage to get into the home? The door had a magnetic closure on it, allowing the alligator to push it open. The door shut behind the reptile, preventing a reptilian retreat, according to the television station.

Hollenback said she was relieved that the alligator was removed safely and that no one was hurt.

“I was relieved. I was kind of shaken for a while, but you know, it’s like all my neighbors came out and were all talking about it, and it’s just become a really good story since then.” Hollenback told WFLA. “I mean, this story just keeps growing and growing. My 15 minutes of fame.”