Alligator Dog Tags

12-Foot South Carolina Alligator Caught With Five Hunting Dog Tags in Stomach

This alligator had some unbelievable stomach contents.

Everyone knows the American alligator is a ferocious predator, but sometimes we need a little extra reminder as to how dangerous these big reptiles can be. A large nuisance gator recently taken off private land in South Carolina's Edisto River had some real surprises waiting inside for butchers when they opened the 12-foot, 445-pound animal's stomach. Surprises that seem to have solved the decades-old mystery of what happened to at least one hunting dog.

Game processor Cordray's posted the shocking finds on Facebook for the world to see. Inside the gator, taken by Ned McNeely, they found a bullet jacket, a spark plug, turtle shells, bobcat claws, and most chilling of all, the tags from five dog collars.

The processors noted they do not normally check the stomach of gators brought in, but it seems fortunate they did this time. Two of the dog tags were still legible and to the processor's amazement, one of the phone numbers was still operational. The business posted photos of the alligator and the unbelievable find on their Facebook page last week. As you might expect, the post immediately went viral.

The staff learned the tag came from a hound lost 24 years ago. The lost animal was a deer dog and went missing while hunting on a piece of leased property not far from where the alligator was found. ABC 4 News confirmed this incredible detail with the dog's owner. While this may be shocking news to hear, especially for dog lovers, Cordray's co-owner Claudia Cordray told reporters they have no doubt the alligator ate the lost canine. They believe the big alligator to be at least 50 to 70 years old.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," Cordray told reporters. "Where we live, lots of people have stories about walking their dogs on a golf course or wherever, and something grabs the dog."

In a response to a user comment, the Cordray's Facebook page mentioned this was not the first time such a find has been made.

"We've processed alligators for over 20 years," the post reads. "We don't often open the stomachs, but have known lots of people who've found dog tags before."

Some users who commented on the original post expressed skepticism at the find. However, many other hunters chimed in saying they had lost hunting dogs to alligators many times in the past, some of them in the same area on the same river. Others simply speculated as to how the other strange items like the spark plug ended up in the animal's belly. In any case, the alligator is slated to become meat for the dinner table and a full-size body mount. Chalk it up as one of the wildest alligator stories we have heard in quite some time.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels