Alligators Get Teeth Brushed, Baths Following New Orleans-area Diesel Spill

by Amanda Glover
(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Even alligators need a spa day too, especially if they’re covered in diesel.

Wildlife rehabilitation centers decontaminate dozens of alligators, giving them baths, and brushing their teeth. This happened after a pipeline rupture dumped 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel into a New Orleans area wetland.

On December 27th, a damaged pipeline broke down. Afterward, diesel poured into the area outside the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette.

Authorities have rescued seventy-eight alligators since the incident. They’ve cleaned and released thirty-three of the reptiles into a national wildlife refuge in New Orleans. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the creatures also had a new home for them around ten miles from the spill site in St. Bernard Parish.

For future reference, Outsiders, washing a six-foot alligator requires eight people. This includes four holders, two scrubbers, one person with the hose for hot-water rinses, and one to change the water. Sounds fun, right?

Laura Carver, an oil spill coordinator, claims that the impact of the diesel on wildlife is high compared to most Louisiana spills.

Carver said they used a hard piece of wood for the gators teeth, “almost like a really old-fashioned mop handle.” This object is used to hold the jaw open while they get their teeth brushed. After the washing, the animal’s teeth get scrubbed. Thankfully, Dawn dishwashing liquid works pretty well.

Carver also claimed that nearly all of the spill went into two man-made ponds.

Contractors for Collins Pipeline Company of Collins in Mississippi works to deal with the contamination.

Alligators and Other Animals Are in Danger

According to Healthy Gulf spokesman, Dustin Renaud, the Gulf Coast is in constant danger of spills from corroded oil and gas pipelines. “It’s time we take a systematic approach to review the vulnerability of our oil and gas infrastructure and start the process of repairing and removing these rust buckets,” he said.

The spill took the lives of around 2,300 fish in two pits from which dirt was once cut out for construction. These fish ranged from minnows, bass, sunfish, gar, and shad.

Federal records also show that authorities set up noise-making cannons in the area to keep birds and animals away. But unfortunately, over 100 snakes, birds, and frogs died.

According to Carver, even though authorities found many birds, only three survived the combination of diesel and cold weather.

Due to their unfortunate conditions, the department euthanized three alligators.

The alligators released in Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge included 11 babies. The babies receive baths once polluted food is no longer in their digestive systems.

The state investigation is being led by Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office.

At Outsider, we’re huge animal and nature lovers. We only hope the situation is quickly and safely resolved for both people and animals.