Michael Womer, a performing animal wrangler known as the Gator Crusader, captured video of himself cleaning his alligator’s teeth by hand to remove debris from the animal’s jaws on August 10 in Orlando, Florida.
In the footage, which Womer shared on YouTube, he states that the alligator, Mr Chomper, had debris stuck on his teeth after an invasive plant took over his tank.
Womer decided to remove the plant residue from the animal’s teeth with his fingernails because he felt a toothbrush would not do an adequate job. (Womer has received national attention for brushing his alligators’ teeth.)
The alligator allowed Womer to remove the plant from its mouth, and neither he nor the animal were injured.
Womer told Storyful he has worked training alligators for 27 years: “I have always been more theatrical and a natural comedian than a great scientist, so I use my talents and what I am good at to promote conservation.”
Adult alligators typically have between 74 and 80 teeth in their mouths, but they don’t have to take particularly good care of them, as they grow new ones throughout their lifetime. According to the Smithsonian, an American alligator can go through 3,000 teeth. Credit: The Gator Crusader via Storyful