Somewhere in Texas, an alligator is swimming with a knife stuck in its head.
Houston-area woman Erin Weaver told ABC13 that when she spotted the American alligator near her home, "it looked like a steak knife that was sticking out of its head."
"I saw him turn and come swimming towards me," she told the outlet. "I saw something sticking out of his head. It looked like a steak knife that was sticking out of his head, I don't know if it was in his eye, but it looked [like] if it wasn't in his eye it was very close to his eye."
In the southeastern U.S., alligators aren't a rarity — in fact, they're quite common. But one with a steak knife could indicate that the gator was intentionally injured.
"I feel that somebody did this on purpose," she said, adding that she's never seen a gator act aggressively or attack during the six years she's lived in the Orchard Lakes Estates in Sugar Land. According to its website, the neighborhood is situated between two Fort Bend County lakes and adjoins the 750-acre Cullinan Park, which is home to birds, insects and — yep — alligators.
"Never have I seen them [the alligators] aggressive or even defensive, I mean if you walk by and startle them they just go underwater," Weaver told ABC13.
A Texas wildlife agency is expected to check on the gator on Monday, but Weaver and her neighbors don't want to wait that long to help it.
"I want to get help for this alligator. I don't want to see an alligator swimming around with a knife in its head and suffering," she said. "To get a knife in there, someone had to really have thrown it hard or stabbed this poor thing."
Alligator skin is covered in osteoderms, or bony please similar to a turtle's shell, that acts a bodily armor, which makes it one of the most resilient species on Earth, alligator researcher Frank Mazzotti told CNN.
Plus, gator skulls are made of heavy, thick bone so that potential attackers have only a "very small target" to do serious damage. Otherwise, objects get loved in the skull rather than the brain, which could maim but not kill the animal.
What's more is that alligator blood contains antibiotic properties, which speeds up the healing process and renders substantial damage as mere flesh wounds, helping the animal bounce back quickly.
Another resident, Jennifer Griffin, told KPRC-TV that alligators swimming in the lakes aren't typically a cause for concern. "[I'm] horrified that someone would ever do anything like that to an animal," she said. "There's no cause for it."
Sugar Land city's website says that alligators remain an "integral component of freshwater ecosystems" and state law bans the killing, harassing or possession of alligators.
"Alligators naturally shy away from humans and prefer isolated areas away from people. In the spring and summer, alligators are moving to breed and find new habitat," it explains.
"Most of the alligators seen moving around are the smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move further on in a week or two. Our most active months are April through July."