rank Indiviglio grew up with the legend of the alligators living in the New York sewers. It was "probably just a scary story to keep children out of the sewer system," he says now. "But of course in my case it worked opposite."

When Indiviglio was a child in the '60s, the street he lived on in the Bronx was broken up due to construction, he says. It was summer, he had lots of time, and the street repair gave him an easy entrance to the sewers.

"I would bring leftovers from lunch, a long line and a hook, and spend a part of each day in the sewers looking for alligators," he remembers. "I saw rats, cockroaches probably caught a lot of sicknesses but I never saw anything like an alligator."

Today Indiviglio, 40, is a herpetologist who is responsible for the reptiles among them alligators at the Staten Island Zoo. He can walk into the cage of the four full-grown American alligators living in the zoo when he wants.

He says people believed that the sewers would be a good place for alligators to live because it should be hot and steamy down there. Furthermore, there should be plenty of rats for the alligators to eat. But Indiviglio says the sewers are not for alligators they are too polluted, too cold and there is not enough sunlight.

The temperature of an Alligators blood follows the temperature of the environment. "They can take the cold for a while but not a four month New York winter," Indiviglio says.

He explains that alligators cannot digest their food when it is cold. If they eat anyway, the food will rot and kill them.

Furthermore, it was believed to be baby alligators that were flushed into the sewers. But without the sun and the D vitamin their skin produces when in the sun they could not utilize calcium and their bones would get soft.

He says the pollution level in the sewers would kill anything that lives in the water.


Frank Indiviglio never found alligators in the sewers - but he has plenty to take care of at the Staten Island Zoo.