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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
explains that alligators cannot digest their food
when it is cold. If they eat anyway, the food will rot — and kill
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.
says the pollution level in the sewers would kill anything
that lives in the water.