An Alligator Crashing Through Her Kitchen Window Turns Florida Woman Into Local Celebrity

After her encounter with the 11-foot-long reptile, Mary Wischhusen, a.k.a. the "gator lady," started receiving presents from strangers.

Most people would be terrified after an 11-foot alligator crashed through their kitchen window. But Clearwater, Florida resident Mary Wischhusen describes the incident as a "fun thing, really."

Early on the morning of May 31, a gator broke through low windows in Wischhusen's kitchen and entered her home. She woke up to discover the reptile had destroyed her dining table, left holes in her walls, and smashed her stash of wine.

Luckily, aside from some property damage, no one was hurt—even Wischhusen's parakeet was unharmed. The alligator was safely removed and relocated to a facility by emergency responders. According to experts, it was likely looking for a mate, saw its reflection in the window and thought it had found the ideal partner.

An unwanted overnight visitor had to be removed from a home on Eagles Landing Circle West in Clearwater. The...

Posted by Clearwater Police Department on Friday, May 31, 2019

The Clearwater Police Department's Facebook post about the incident went viral, and was shared more than 14,000 times.

Wischhusen says she knows it was a bizarre incident, but she's surprised people are still talking about the close encounter. "It should have died about three weeks ago," she told the Tampa Bay Times.

Instead, neighbors continue to call her the "gator lady," and strangers have left her gifts—mostly bottles of red wine to replace the ones the alligator destroyed. She received a sign for her door that reads "Enter at your own risk," with alligator claws on both sides.

Wischhusen, who lives near two golf courses and a retention pond, says she wasn't surprised to see the alligator. Living where she does, she's used to seeing gators, coyotes and other wildlife.

Things are now back to normal—aside from a dent in her refrigerator where the alligator's tail swung into it. But Wischhusen is taking precautions against any more toothy visitors by installing hurricane-strength doors.

Though common in Florida, alligators generally don't pose a threat to humans. While encounters are common, bites are rare: According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, records dating back to 1948 show that there has never been more than 15 alligator-bite incidents in Florida in a year.

In 2018, there was only one alligator-related fatality reported in Florida.

Still, experts recommend anyone who encounters an alligator to stay at least 40 feet away, as they can easily outrun a human from a distance of 20 feet.