Land & Conservation

Knock Knock, Gator Calling

A South Carolina woman gets a surprise visitor while working from home

Photo: Courtesy of Alex Elkins

A gator paid a visit to a front porch in Charleston, South Carolina.

Robyn Schnessel was in a video meeting at her home in the West Ashley area of Charleston, South Carolina—as the presenter, as luck would have it—when her day took an unusual turn. “My first warning was our dog going bananas,” she says. “Then my other dog, who never barks, started as well, and I knew something was really going on.” Schnessel walked out on her second-floor balcony, looked down, and was greeted by the sight of a not-small alligator at the front door.

“I froze,” she says. “I thought, this cannot be real. And that’s when I started screaming.” She had left the main door open, so there was nothing but the storm door between the alligator and the inside of the house. Schnessel and her stepson had a few moments of panic—and time to snap a photo of the gator grinning through the glass—before she called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. 

The agency had some sobering news—if it dispatched someone to remove the gator, the reptile would be euthanized. “I thought, we aren’t doing that,” Schnessel says. “I’m an animal lover, and it just wasn’t the right thing to do.” The DNR explained that the animal was likely lost and would eventually leave in search of a pond. And though the alligator was at this point quite literally knocking at the door—“He was hitting the glass with his face so loudly you could hear it over the phone”—Schnessel and her stepson waited it out. “We were like prisoners in the house,” she says. “The whole thing was scary and hilarious at the same time.” 

After about an hour and an amble around the porch, the gator finally wandered off, stopping by a neighbor’s front yard and leaving Schnessel with a vivid reminder of the visit on her home security camera. “I have no idea where he ended up, but I saw on the neighborhood Facebook group that people spotted him crossing Grand Oaks Boulevard,” she says. Here’s hoping he found a pond. 

He also provided her with perhaps the best excuse ever for vacating a video meeting. “Sorry, guys,” she told her waiting colleagues in the middle of the incident. “There’s an alligator at my door, and I’m going to have to deal with that.”