Gator Bait

You know how sometimes you notice an unusual object, and then suddenly you’re seeing them everywhere?  Apparently this is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon:  There aren’t actually more of the items than before; you’re only noticing them more.

Okay, fine.  That makes sense.

So… why have I been seeing plastic alligators this week?  I seriously doubt that there’s a plethora of plastic gators lurking in the small towns of Parksville and Qualicum Beach and I’ve simply failed to notice them until now.

But on Friday I arrived at the art centre for my painting group, and there was this:

Yes, somebody had posed a small plastic alligator on the handrail. With a potato chip in its mouth.

I blinked. Looked again.

Yep, it was still a plastic alligator eating a potato chip.

I glanced around, but nobody was lurking nearby with a video camera to capture the reactions of passersby. (Or if they were, I didn’t spot them. For all I know, my befuddled expression might be all over the internet in a Punk’d video by now.)

I drew a deep breath.  Ooookay, fine.  Nothing to see here, folks; just move along.

So I went into the building and forgot the whole thing for a couple of hours. But when I came out, the gator was still there, noshing on the same chip. It might still be there for all I know. (*Update: The gator was still there on Friday but his chip was gone, and the poor little guy was looking hungry.  Maybe I’ll take him a new chip next week.)

Assuming that this was a one-off experience, I filed it under ‘another example of weird shit that happens to me’, and got on with life.

Until the very next day, when I attended a potluck for our local Rhododendron Society chapter. Now, let me just say that this is not a group of youngsters. I’m 55 years old and my face shows every one of those years; and yet one of the members patted me on the arm and said, “Oh, how nice to see young people taking an interest in rhododendrons. Are you attending the local college, dear?”

So it’s not exactly the milieu where one might expect to encounter a plastic reptile. Particularly not stuck to the ceiling in our hosts’ dining room:

I didn’t spot it for quite a while; but when I did, my mouth dropped open.  ANOTHER plastic gator!  (Turned out it was a gecko; but I didn’t realize that until I zoomed in for the photo.)  Anyway, I was agog.

When I buttonholed the host, he explained that their grandkids had several of the little toys.  Whenever they came over they’d throw the critters at the ceiling, where they would stick for hours or sometimes days before finally dropping off.

I probably should have asked how long that one had been up there (especially since it was poised over the buffet table like the Gecko of Damocles), but I was too busy feeling relieved that I wasn’t hallucinating plastic reptiles in unlikely locations.

I haven’t seen any more in the past couple of days, but now I’m alert for the opportunity.  If there’s a gator to be had, I’ll spot it.  Baader and Meinhof would be proud.

Has anyone else seen plastic reptiles in public lately, or am I just gator bait?

44 thoughts on “Gator Bait

  1. I’ve experienced the phenomena, but never with plastic gators. Live geckos…..they love to crawl up the outside stucco….our cat’s use to entice them into the garage and then carry them into the dining room where they would bat them around on the hardwood floor….OK…got side tracked, back to plastic alligators…..nothing here 🙂


    • Okay, good to know the plastic gators aren’t taking over the world! Your poor little geckos, though! I have a soft spot for newts and lizards and critters of their ilk. There used to be salamanders on the school grounds when I was kid, and I was constantly rescuing them from the other kids and bringing them home to release them near our pond.

      So you can imagine how thrilled I was yesterday when I discovered fat little black tadpoles (newtpoles?) in our new pond here! Rough-skinned newts are native to this area, and apparently they’ve moved right in and made themselves at home. Hooray! I’m looking forward to watching the little ones grow up. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No gaters around these parts, Diane. Strangely, there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary that I’ve noticed in a while. I must be looking the other way again – I’m always doing that.


  3. Well OK, I just did a cursory check of the neighborhood. No plastic gators. Not even down on the Nautical Mile. We do have fishflies this time of year (aka mayflies), and given how disgusting they can be when they start piling up underneath the streetlights, I’d gladly take a few gators, plastic or otherwise. The only “gator” I can scrounge up is a nearly empty bottle of Gatorade in the fridge, which seems to have taken up residence a month ago and hasn’t been moved since, as neither of us here drink it.

    I do have lizards/geckos in my family room, but only because I’ve done it up in a Southwest theme. And Kokopelli is in more than a few places in the house. That’s something you don’t see around these parts either, and with Kokopelli being more of a flute-playing soul, he seems to have not much time for potato chips. Nor Gatorade.

    Interesting roots of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, by the way…


    • Yes, when I wrote “Baader and Meinhof would be proud”, I almost changed it to “confused”. I’m imagining what it must be like to have a phenomenon named after you because of sheer random chance.

      Fishflies, ugh! I remember drifts of them out at the lakes in Manitoba. Completely harmless, but ever-so-revolting! I’ll take geckos any day. (Not gators, though. I still draw the line there!)


      • They say that a heavy fishfly outbreak is the sign that our lakes are healthy. We’re a mile away from the lake, so we only get some strays here if the conditions are right (at most lately, a dozen or two on the house or garage). I would imagine it’s the same on the Canadian side of the lake in Ontario. I do remember staring up at the sky at dusk one evening several years ago and seeing swarms of them flying around which, yeah, is kind of disturbing. Birds loved the delivered-to-their-nest meals, though–the swarm of small birds swooping to catch the fisflies was rather comical.


  4. Years ago, we went over to some friends’ house to spend a pleasant evening. I was just about to step onto their front porch when something caught my eye. I glanced down, and right at my feet was what looked for all the world like an alligator submerged in their perfect lawn. You’ve all seen the movies where gators ooze into the water and swim almost submerged toward their victims, right? Yep, that’s exactly what this thing looked like. Or things, rather. There were three pieces; the head and snout, a bit of the body, and part of the tail. He had them spaced perfectly, so it looked exactly like a partially submerged alligator.

    Before I knew what was happening, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. That sucker looked REAL.

    Quite the conversation starter, that. Naturally, I wanted one exactly like it. He’d gotten it as a gag gift years ago and had no clue whence it originated. At the time, Harbor Freight had a three-piece gator set, but it resembled my friend’s critter not at all. HF’s was almost cartoonish. Not interested. Nor have I seen another like my buddy had. If I ever do, I’m buying it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t say I’ve seen plastic gators recently but in Spain one of the shops had lots of plastic dinosaurs and the like.

    I did see a real gecko a couple of years ago in Spain sunning it’s self on the pavement it scared the stuffing out of me we thought it was a skin until it moved, we walked round it carefully and as we walked back it was gone but it wasn’t scared of us. I wasn’t scared of it as it was just small I just wasn’t expecting to see one I wish I’d taken a photo of it but sadly at the time I didn’t think to do it


    • I’d love to see a live gecko in its natural habitat! I love lizards, up to about the size of iguanas. Once they get to alligator and crocodile size, I lose interest fast. Around here we have rough-skinned newts that live anywhere they can find a nice moist shady spot (like under our front steps). They’re so cute! I wouldn’t mind seeing more of those. 🙂


      • My older son and his wife lived in the Cayman’s for a few years. Iguanas are everywhere there. They’re protected, in fact. All sizes and colors, too. Speaking of geckos, my niece called them ‘insurance lizards’ when she was little. Cracked me up.


        • I’m cracking up, too! That little lizard was some brilliant marketing on Geico’s part. I’d never remember them at all if not for their cute little spokesgecko.

          And now I have yet another reason to want to visit the Cayman Islands!

          Liked by 1 person

            • Chickens?!? Why? That brings up all manner of speculative questions:
              Do they still sell chicken meat in the grocery stores? What if I buy chicken at the grocery store and take it out of its wrapper before I put it in the freezer so it’s unclear whether I poached a protected chicken? Can the conservation officers check your freezer and fine you for having unauthorized chicken meat? The mind boggles…

              Liked by 1 person

              • DNA tagging. Chickens and people. Everything and everybody who lives there. Subjects and expats. Tourists with extended visas. Everybody. We visited there for four days and got a nasty letter from MI-6 because we stopped at a KFC on the way home. After the kids moved back to the States, they still had to honor their commitment to remain chicken-free for 12 months. They celebrated last July with five gallons of kung pau. And a trip to the emergency room. When the Caymans say their chickens are protected, they aren’t kidding.


    • LOL! Yep, I’m sure you’re right. Every day I give thanks that we don’t have polar bears here! The black bears don’t actually want to eat us; they just want to avoid us. Polar bears just consider us a nice light snack.

      And if I see in the news that some mutant sea-faring gator has crawled up somewhere on the shores of Vancouver Island, I’m never going near the water again! 😉


  6. Well no plastic gators here, unless you count the ones in Bass Pro Shops. And it was probably still there because someone decided to feed it. Bad choice. However I don’t recommend trying to take the chip away. You need your fingers for typing😉. I did have a similar experience with owls when I first moved to my current home. And it was preceded by a dream of a couple that lived next door to my family when I was a little girl. The dream had been so real that I actually woke up with the smell of their house In my room. It was a very distinctive scent that I couldn’t name if I had to but for me it’s only ever associated with their home. This is significant because the lady of the house, Addie, collected owls! So I have this dream and that day I see owls everywhere. It meant of course that I had to buy one.
    Any dreams of reptiles, or collectors of them, that you can remember? LOL! I know It’s odd that I love weird coincidence like this.
    Have a great week!


    • Your owl story is such a bizarre coincidence! Now I’m wondering whether there really were owls everywhere, or whether it was good old Baader-Meinhof at work again. In any case, I’m sure you did the right thing by buying one (for the memories if nothing else). 🙂

      I don’t recall dreaming of reptiles of any sort, but I did find a discarded garter snake skin a few days ago…


  7. Ha ha! I know the phenomenon but can’t think of a recent example. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t reptiles, though; I think I’d remember that.

    Even from my vantage point of sixty-two, fifty-five looks young, Diane 🙂 I can barely remember how it felt to be that age. That’s the dead brain cells’ fault.


    • I’ve been noticing the ‘dead brain cells’ phenomenon lately, and it’s starting to worry me. I used to carry appointment dates and times effortlessly in my brain, but that’s all over now. These days I have to check the calendar every morning just to see what I’ve forgotten. At least the plastic reptiles were memorable! 😉


      • Just a word of caution with the outdoor cats, Diane – they may serve to attract bigger wildlife, including raptors, who see them as a food source … 😦


        • Yes, I think that’s why we don’t have too much of a rodent problem here — between the eagles and the turkey vultures, anything much smaller than a German Shepherd is an appetizer. At least the larger ground-based predators are screened out by our fence, so as long as we get cats who were raised outdoors by their wise mama, and give them lots of places to hide from aerial attacks, we’re hoping they’ll do okay. I guess time will tell.


  8. no gators cause I haven’t been to Mobile causeway lately. Just cats and kittens all over the place. And I am dumb enough to keep feeding them. Go figure

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, that’s not dumb; that’s nice! We’re hoping to get some outdoor cats to keep the rodent population at bay. We just haven’t gotten around to building them a shelter yet — too focused on getting our own place tuned up. Soon …


      • these stay on the part of large wooden deck that is covered. or very close so they can hide. They are not scared of the 3 dogs. actually some of them rub on the dogs and try to follow them around. when my husband takes the dogs outside fenced yard for walks they try to follow. we have coons and possums who come share the food. I don’t know what all comes out of the woods. That picture is my little schnauser muffin and iceman, one of 2 inside cats who no longer go outside. they are close to 10 years old and mostly sleep or get under my feet. I love watching the kittens play.


        • Iceman and Muffin are adorable! On the farm where I grew up, our outdoor cats coexisted well enough with raccoons (by avoiding them — they can get big and vicious) but dogs were their sworn enemies. It was probably because we didn’t have dogs — most of our neighbours had both cats and dogs and they seemed to get along as well as yours do.

          And kittens were the highlight of every spring! I know these days you’re supposed to spay and neuter and I understand why; but I feel sorry for kids these days who will never have the opportunity to discover a mom cat and her litter of tiny fluffballs. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know. They’re breeding like rabbits out here, too. I wish the automakers would pick a new “standard” colour — white is so boring. Blue could be their new standard. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like blue? But I guess the ‘custom’ colours are where they make their money, from people who just can’t bear to look at another white automobile. Ingenious, but subtly evil.


  9. Haven’t seen any of these around, lately, but I know the feeling of spotting something you never noticed before and then seeing the same thing a few days in a row, elsewhere. After those few days, everything turns back to normal, though, so you should be fine. Until the next event and funky observation! I wonder what that’ll be… An English cucumber?


    • LOL! I hope so! Our cucumber plants are growing nice and bushy now, but no sign of cucumbers yet. We have 7 plants, so when they start producing we’ll be snowed (cucumbered…?) under. But if I keep seeing plastic reptiles, I’m going to be concerned. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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