If you want to whine about your alligator problem, don’t come to me

July 24, 2013 | 76 comments

I was recently involved in an email exchange with Joe and some of his friends from Houston. The topic of conversation was a recent news story that took place at a house near where one of Joe’s friends lives, where a woman discovered this in her backyard pool:


Evidently this is pretty common in their neck of the woods, as illustrated by this story and this one and this one.

After that last set of links was sent around, someone chimed in to say, “Hey, Jen, you should be feeling thankful that all you have to deal with is scorpions!” This filled my email inbox with enthusiastic responses, including one from my own spouse. Witty emails poured in one after another agreeing that, indeed, I should be overwhelmed with ecstatic gratitude that “only” have to deal with scorpions.

A one-upsmanship contest was initiated between myself and the alligator people, which struck me as a total waste of time since I so obviously win. It is times like this when I’m glad that I have a blog so that I can publicly set everyone straight about this kind of thing.

Let’s take a closer look at an alligator infestation. Take this picture, example:

Probably not going to be able to get that out with the leaf skimmer.

Probably not going to be able to get that out with the leaf skimmer.

Okay, sure, I see how that situation could be unsettling. You’ve got your swimsuit on, you’re all lathered up with sunscreen, and you head outside to float around in the pool for a while. Just when you’re about to jump in, you notice that there’s a 900-pound reptile in your way. I get it — totally inconvenient. It might even knock over your beer while you’re in your raft. So terrifying!

Meanwhile, take my life, where I open the drapes to gaze at the moon before I go to bed, and have this thing all up in my face instead:

Surprise! It's a scorpion.

At least it wasn’t an alligator?

If you want to know true terror, try opening your toilet lid to find this little surprise (then immediately relive the last time you went to the restroom, and become frozen in horror as you think of JUST HOW BAD it could have been).



I’m not saying that there’s no downside to having a 12-foot prehistoric monster in your pool, but evidently a few things need to be pointed out:

  • Alligators do not hide in your bed at night.
  • They don’t hide in your shoes, either.
  • You would not accidentally step on an alligator on your kitchen floor.
  • They don’t sting with venom that is specifically formulated to be painful.
  • They don’t fluoresce under blacklight. (That I’m aware of. But if they did, MAN that would be creepy.)
  • They are not difficult to kill.
  • Well, okay, I guess they are difficult to kill. But at least they’re not known for acting all dead and then, just when you touch them with a piece of paper to scoop them up and put them in the trash can, they become very un-dead and START RUNNING AT YOU AND TRYING TO STING YOU.

In case any other alligator people were thinking of emailing me to tell me to be thankful for my scorpions, here’s a handy chart:


So, yeah, nobody likes to have a creature that can bite them in half in their back yard. I give you that. HOWEVER, that is very unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, those of us with scorpions are very likely to be stung in bed, at night, WHILE WE SLEEP. When you Houston people get in bed at night, at least you’d know if there were an alligator under your sheets. Meanwhile, I go to bed each evening with the knowledge that THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT.

Empirical evidence shows that if you have ever seen a scorpion in your house, there is a 90% chance of one ending up in your bed and stinging you, perhaps getting caught up in your pajamas, and continuing to sting you over and over and over again as you throw yourself to the ground and scream in terror as every movement to get the creature off of you only elicits further stings.

Let’s say I’m exaggerating. I know, I know, it’s impossible to believe that I would employ hyperbole when it comes to this subject. But just for the sake of rigorous science, let’s say that it’s more like a 70% chance that if you have scorpions in the house one will get caught in your pajamas and sting you over and over and over again as you throw yourself to the ground and scream in terror as every movement to get the creature off of you only elicits further stings. Which would you take: a 0.01% chance of being bitten in half by a one-ton reptile, or a 70% chance of a scorpion sneaking into your bed and attacking you? (Please wait to answer until you’re lying in bed at night.)

And, finally, when in doubt about any matter, one should always turn to Scripture. So I ask you: Which creatures are decried 12 times in the Bible?:

A) Alligators
B) Scorpions

The answer is B. Hmm. Well, I’ve got the creatures that are specifically mentioned in Scripture as being horrible, so I guess I win.

This post was not sponsored by the Texas Department of Tourism.

(I’m posting every day this week! To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see this list.)


  1. Leila@LittleCatholicBubble

    Best post to wake up to in the morning, ever! And, I think you have more than made your case!

  2. JoAnna

    My 5-year-old was stung by a scorpion not too long ago. Specifically, the Arizona Bark Scorpion, the most venomous scorpion in North America. It had been hiding in his shoe.

    I think I’d rather have alligators, too.

    I gotta say, though… don’t snakes seem like some evil alligator-scorpion hybrid?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I’d never thought of snakes that way, but…yeah. Totally.

      • Kelly the Kitchen Kop

        I totally agree with this snake comment!!!!

        Jen, you and your charts CRACK ME UP!


  3. Jules at Flowchart to Surrender

    Nice! As an engineer, I feel qualified to validate your analysis. Scorpions > Alligators. Great post.

  4. Elizabethe

    I would also add that there is no group that will come and take your scorpions away for free. I assume that these alligator infestations were dealt with by some kind of government wildlife protection agency or something like that?

  5. Rita @ Open Window

    OK, I’m convinced. I’d rather face an alligator. Those scorpion photos give me the shivers.

  6. Alice

    Also, if you have an alligators in your swimming pool, you still have your a swimming pool.

  7. Rosita

    Thank you for once again convincing me to stay North. The winters may be harsh, but no alligators or scorpions to deal with. Just to add, I am completely and totally on your side on this argument.

  8. Christine Johnson

    You need one more line: Can hide where you can’t see it. Alligators aren’t doing that unless you live in a swamp, at which point you’re just asking for it. Seriously.



  9. Christine Johnson

    Also, can I add that I’m glad I happened upon this online and not on my iPhone? I might have had to block you forever if I needed to touch one of those pictures to get it off my screen.

  10. Karen

    I live in alligator territory…and alligators totally scare the crap out of me. We’ve had them in our driveway and with little kids they could swallow whole running around. Not fun!

    However, scorpions totally beat alligators. I’m pretty sure I’d burn my house down if they were in here.

    Elizabethe: If we find alligators around here (which happens A Lot in the Spring) we don’t have anyone to remove them for free unless they are being threatening. But if you ask me, an 8 foot, 900 pound creature in my yard that could eat me is pretty dang threatening.

    • elizabethe

      so, what do you do? Just wait till they decide to leave? Are you allowed to shoot them or are they protected?

      • Meika

        LOL, the visual I got on this is killing me… standing at the door with a shotgun, yelling at the kids to move, while on the phone with your lawyer trying to figure out if you’ll go to prison for shooting the dang thing or not. Publicly laughing.

        • Jenj

          They’re not protected anymore. But I think you need a license still. Ever had gator tail? Yum.

    • Jenj

      Yeah my hubby was working not too long ago along where they caught the record gator in our state recently. There were a few watching him work (he does screen rooms and pool enclosures). He said it scared the crap out of him.

      Back when we were dating, we’d drive to the coast and shine the headlights on the water and count the pairs of eye. Super romantic…

      I’m thankful we only get an occasional bunny, raccoon or deer where we are now (in town).

  11. Teresa

    I was stung by a scorpion in my bed when I was a teenager (back in the olden days, dark ages, long long go…you get the picture) I’ll take the alligators too. They may be fierce and scary but at least you can see them and deal with them (hopefully) before them.

    Great blog and YOU ARE RIGHT! Scorpions win.

    Love your writing!

  12. Emily Davis

    YOU totally win!
    I have lived in both Houston & Florida where alligators climb fences and such… but I betcha I can outrun an alligator… that and I am not going close enough to one to outrun it.

    AND – here in Texas, my friends are all worried about scorpions. I thankfully have not seen one yet. I’m not sure how it will go.

    Anyway – Great post. You are a fantastic writer.


  13. Joy @ Caspara

    Great post and great comments! Perfect thing to read early on a day when my kids have literally been fighting since they woke up! I definitely prefer this kind of argument!

  14. Anne McD

    You win. Period. Now to go shake my serious case of skeeviness and thank goodness I don’t live in TX!

  15. Mary

    Oh my goodness, you have me laughing out loud. Scorpions are way worse. Way way worse. At least with an alligator you could protect yourself with a gun. I don’t know anyone who could hit a scorpion.

    Did you see that pin I tagged you in? It is absolutely perfect for you. http://pinterest.com/pin/14355292535257931/

  16. Sarah

    Oh Jen, this is a hilarious post. Just hilarious! You need to move to the northwest, sister. The worst thing we’ve got going here are Mosquitos. 😉

    • Elizabeth

      And moose. 🙂 Sorry, but one of the funniest posts you wrote was the one where you met up with a moose.

  17. Martha

    As someone who lives in southwest Florida, I have to tell you the unfortunate truth: we have scorpions AND gators. And lubber grasshoppers (ok not dangerous, but really creepy looking – they are the size of my hand).

    So our routine here in Florida means checking for scorpions, just like you, and then also checking for gators. Haha, you laugh, wouldn’t you NOTICE a gator? No…they like to hide under cars, under your porch, in tall grasses, etc. So you let your kids out to play and whooops, around the side of the house is a gator! Also, running outside around dawn or dusk? Uh huh, prime gator time. And gators LOVE to eat runners. Luckily, we probably could outrun a gator on land…but still not something I am thrilled about

    Moral of the story: southwest Florida probably should be returned to nature and abandoned by all inhabitants.

    • Amanda

      Um yes, having lived in Florida for a couple years as a kid I completely concur that it should be abandoned by all inhabitants.

      And Florida also means checking for spiders and snakes too…and bees of course. Those grasshoppers are creepy by the way, so if we’re mentioning the creepy things as well how about lizards and leeches and cockroaches. Ugh, makes me shudder just thinking about it. I pray daily to give thanks to God that I do not live in Florida, and thanks to Jen’s posts i often tack on a “and I give thanks for not living in Texas” too.

      I would also contend that having an alligator in your pool is far cooler than having a scorpion in your shoe, so again scorpions are far worse since you can’t even brag to your friends about them.

      • Jenj

        Yes! Lol we’re in North FL (so no scorpions but all the other creepy crawlies), but my mom grew up in Naples and I’ve heard all her scorpion stories!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Scorpions AND alligators? That is asking to much of anyone to put up with both. And I thought my climate was inhospitable to human life.

      • Kelly the Kitchen Kop

        AND snakes in FL, can’t forget those, my worst nightmare. We’re going there on vacation next month. Hottest month of the year and all the previously mentioned creepers. Yay, can’t wait for that. Oh and did I mention we’re driving for 24 hours straight to get there? With kids who are already driving each other nuts this summer? Woohoo!

  18. Christy

    I’m laughing so hard. So funny. I would take a gator over a scorpion as well.

  19. Meredith

    Scorpions are worse, hands down. Especially if you live here in Phoenix, where we have bark scorpions who love to come hang out in your house and drop into your baby’s crib. Bark scorpion stings are potentially lethal to young children and the elderly. My friend knows a 3 year old who just died from a bark scorpion sting.
    ICK. I hate them.

  20. Susan

    I totally agree with you – I’d much rather see an alligator in my pool than a scorpion. It might even be kind of fun to run back in the house and then watch the alligator swim around your pool for a bit before you call…whoever you call when there’s an alligator in your pool. But there’s nothing remotely fun about a scorpion.

  21. Catholic Kara

    LOL! I completely agree. While having an alligator in your back yard is creepy, it’s just not even comparable.

  22. Erica

    I live in Florida and never had an alligator in my house. Snakes however, scare the pants off of me and have gotten into my house. Thank goodness we don’t have scorpions.

  23. Sarah

    This post made me laugh so hard! It made an awful day a little better.

    I live in South Carolina, and we have plenty of alligators but no scorpions. Scorpions are clearly worse. The Department of Natural Resources will at least send someone out to remove a nuisance alligator.

  24. Melissa

    As someone who has lived in Florida for the last 20 years and has never adjusted to the presence of alligator, and has also been stung by a scorpion, I must say, you are absolutely right that scorpions are far, far, far scarier. Just take the “being stung repeatedly by the scorpion that is stuck in your pajamas” and replace it with “being stung repeatedly by the scorpion that was hiding in the dress you put on when you got out of bed” and you have my scorpion experience. The presence of a scorpion makes “can bite you in half” seem like a minor inconvenience.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I actually had not considered them being in my clothes. Wow. That’s…terrifying.

      • Melissa

        I almost hate to write this because it seems to be similar to tempting the poop fates, but I’ve never actually seen a scorpion here in central Florida. The one that got me was when I lived on Africa. Now, if you include tarantula in the equation, I might have to vote them the scariest. My earliest childhood memory is of a visit to my great-aunt in Tyler, Texas when I was chased by a tarantula in her back yard. I never went outside when we were in Texas ever again.

  25. Brian Sullivan

    Start writing for SyFy–Scorpnado!

  26. LuAnne

    I spent a few years in Florida and did see the occasional alligator (the most memorable experience being when I was managing a car rental company and one had crawled into our lot), but I have to say I’m totally with you on this. Scorpion = much worse. But then again, I’ve never actually seen a scorpion. I’m quite sure that my reaction would be less than calm, though, judging by the fact that I found a mouse in my kitchen this morning, jumped up on the counter, and called my husband. Clearly, I should NOT move to Texas!

  27. Caitlin

    My husband and I are from Houston but now live in Seattle. (We were actually at the conference you spoke at back in November.) Your post on Monday made me really want to move back home, but this post is making me seriously reconsider. I think we’ll stay in Seattle where there’s pleasant weather and no scary creatures!

  28. Erika Marie @ Simplemama

    Ha! What a fun post to read. Sorry if it’s at your expense.
    I have to agree, scorpions are definitely scarier than alligators. Small but deathly. We have a brown recluse spider problem in our house. I usually see them right after I pick up my baby in the exact spot I just picked him up from! 🙁 🙁 It makes it very hard to sleep at night knowing one could crawl onto us while sleeping. I’m glad I didn’t read this right before bed this time (like I usually do).

  29. Ann Elizabeth

    I’m in South Mississippi so I’ve never dealt with scorpions. However, we recently saw an alligator on the riverbank at our camp (in South Alabama) just a few yards from where we swim and many small children play. They are not easy to see. In a swimming pool? Yes. In your backyard? you’d probably notice one. In their natural habitat? No way. You have to be looking for them too see and its still very hard. They are difficult to kill, not to mention…it’s illegal. An older alligator is very territorial and will not hesitate to kill something that she thinks is a threat, small kids included.

    I’m not taking anything away from scorpions, but alligators are a serious threat in some areas.

  30. Mary

    I agree- scorpion terror wins!
    Living near Houston, I’ve seen more scorpions here than alligators, not much more, in total, less than ten; but outside the zoo, zero alligators.

    Did your friends happen to mention the size of our Mosquitos and their incredible swarming abilities?

  31. TheresaEH

    I will no longer complain about annoying mosquitoes ever ever again! I live in northern Alberta, as in Canada where the weather is not welcoming to scorpions nor reptiles of any sort!

  32. Mary Beth

    Loved the chart! You win of course. I’ve never seen a scorpion in San Antonio, & don’t want to! Love your writing.

  33. Barbara

    I’m not really creeped out by scorpions, and the first few times I was stung by one, it was a big “meh.” Not even as bad as a bee sting. But and however, both my son and I experienced increased sensitivity to the stings, which became more painful every time (he’s been stung many times).

    The last time I was stung was one for the record books: I’ve broken limbs and given birth to a 9 lb baby (first one: yow-eeeeeee) with no meds, so I have a passing acquaintance with pain. Oh, and I’ve had many migraines. But that sting, on the end of my big toe where it seems a major nerve ends, left me gasping and unable to think, speak, function for about 15 minutes. If I could have moved, I remember thinking, wishing, that I kept a hack saw in my bathroom so that I could amputate my leg below the knee, and, with any luck, simply pass out from blood loss. It felt as though a live wire with about a jillion volts of electricity had suddenly been jammed up my leg through my toe and foot and ended right at the top of my tibia.

    So yeah: give me the big stupid man-eaters every time.

  34. Andrea

    Goodness, I love your blog.

  35. Nate

    And hence the reason I put up with 20 to 30 below zero weather for a couple weeks here in Wisconsin… no alligators OR scorpions… the only other down side is that mosquitoes are the state bird… or should be.

  36. Lindsey

    I live in Houston. I agree, knowing what is in your pool is better than un-knowing what is in your bed or shoes. Do you also have Biblical plague numbers of mosquitoes and flying roaches the size of dinner plates where you live? If not, I would please like to add them to the Houston list. Roaches don’t sting, but they do get an “x” for ability to seem dead when they are un-dead, also the bed/shoes/step on part. Thanks. Love this post. 🙂

  37. Ouiz

    May I just say that I am soooooooo thankful to live in SC where the biggest problem I have to deal with is roaches the size of your hand? (like Lindsey’s post) Totally freaky, nasty creatures, but they do NOT sting, nor do they eat people. They just fly at your face and reduce you to screaming hysterics… I could NOT handle scorpions or alligators.

  38. Susanne in Georgia

    That is just the funniest thing I have read in a long time. The chart absolutely slayed me!

  39. Ed @ The Aberrant Pen

    Jennifer, as a fellow Austinite, I have to agree with you 100%. I have been so fortunate not to find scorpions in my house, though we do have to deal with the mouse-sized cockroaches around here more often than I would like (read: never).

    I suppose having a prehistoric monster in your pool would be inconvenient, and I’m not sure I’d want to swim in it after that thing had been mucking up the water, but for SURE, the creepy crawlies are the worst because of their stealth. You don’t just ACCIDENTALLY come across an alligator in your house, but with the buggers… let’s just say I have lost sleep over them.

  40. Fiona

    I would absolutely 100% rather have alligators than scorpions, although I really dig this whole living in the Pacific Northwest thing, where we have tame things like tiny slow mosquitos and wasps, which are not pleasant, but also don’t hide in your sheets! AHHH.

  41. Rebecca Fletcher

    I agree that the scorpions definitely beat alligators! However, it must be said that my ant problem trumps your scorpion problem. Mostly because I’m severely allergic to ants and if I get bitten, I won’t thrash around on the floor. I’ll just die and be done with it. Probably the #1 reason I hate bugs.

  42. Micaela @ California to Korea

    You win, hands down. Also, I’m guessing you’re the funniest of your bunch. So, bonus points for that. Sweet dreams! 😉

  43. Benedicte

    Blessings to all from the Green Isle of Ireland wherefrom St Patrick once and for all banished all creepy creatures…no scorpios, no snakes, no alligators or crocs for that matter, nothing that can kill you.

    Want to move here anyone? !

    Of course you’d have to put up with incessant rain and temperatures very rarely above 20 degrees Celsius (I think about 60F). It’s worth it for some!

  44. Melissa H-K

    You win, you win, you win! Scorpions are much, much worse than anything except possibly a nuclear blast. Though those mostly will kill you outright if you’re in the right place.

    All we have here in the Shenandoah Valley is mice (though some are really big), snakes (mostly harmless to humans), skunks, mosquitoes, etc. Too bad you don’t live here. The worst thing that ever happens to me is slipping on the kitchen floor because the mice have eaten through a club soda bottle that we didn’t put in the fridge.

    • Melissa H-K

      Oh, and I forgot—my youngest (who is 25) and the 13-year-old neighbor got stung by bees while moving an old easy chair from the front porch. I think they should have noticed them first, but common sense is not their strong point. Anyway, no biggie compared to scorpions, that’s for sure!

  45. Rabia @ TheLiebers

    OK, I was unsure of where I fell on this matter. Until the chart. You just can’t argue with a chart. You win! Unless of course there are scorpions in your bed. Then you lose. Sorry! Do you think you could train the alligators to come eat the scorpions?
    I am so very thankful to Melissa (^up there^) to sending me this way.

  46. M

    All of a sudden, I’m quite glad that my biggest problem in life is a multitude of crickets.

  47. Sheila Moller

    Jennifer, what I want to know is how do you keep your toilet so pristine….beautiful. I could tell you my black widow stories but next to scorpions….

  48. Catholic Mutt

    I came home to a bear in my yard the other day. But I will gladly take a bear over a scorpion or an alligator any day. And better a bear in my yard than a fat, juicy spider in my house! So, yeah, I think scorpions in the house are much worse than alligators outside of the house. If someone finds an alligator inside the house, then maybe that would be worse.

  49. Elizabeth

    I loved your post, and all the comments. My heart goes out especially to the poor lady who has to live with scorpions AND alligators. Nothing to complain about here in Northern VA except white knuckle driving (unless it’s at a standstill), gang violence, and having to live within 20 miles of Congress.
    …..Can I move to Florida? 😀

  50. Smoochagator

    I’m in your corner in this fight. I have family in Florida where alligators are fairly common, and although I think they’re pretty scary and I’d hate to have one snag one of my pets, at least they’re big enough to spot in time to, you know, GO INSIDE AND LOCK THE DOOR. Scorpions in my bed? NO THANKS.

    This comment was not sponsored by my husband’s strange desire to move to Texas someday. (I think he thinks it’s the NRA promised land.)

  51. Susan

    Jen, I am one of the few fourth generation Floridians in existence. My family has lived within easy walking distance of swamps for over 100 years. For the first 20 years of my life, I regularly swam with many members of my community in a lake that was quite infested with alligators. I can tell you that I have never met anyone who even came close to being bit by an alligator, nor do I have any fear of any one I know being bit by one. However, the first time I ever saw a scorpion in person was when it bit my husband, while he lay in bed, a few months after we got married. ‘Nuff said.

  52. Jenj

    You were definitely overdue for a scorpions post!

    My neighbor across the street from us growing up had a gator break into his screen porch. It was pretty exciting. All we ever had was some crawfish get stuck between our deck and patio. Also kind of exciting as a kid. Don’t want one of those to get you either.

    But yeah the odds of finding a crawfish in your bed is kinda slim.

    That’d be a particularly cruel prank.

  53. Lucy

    I completely agree with you! Find an alligator and you call animal services to remove it….scorpions are all on the homeowner (not cool)!

  54. Faith

    Jen – I can’t wait to meet you in Heaven. You make me laugh. My sister doesn’t read your blog, but I forward posts to her so we can laugh together.

  55. Emily

    Totally with you on this one Jen. I don’t really have to deal with either of these problems here in Indiana. BUT, at least alligators are pretty much always visible and can’t hide in small places. *shudder*

  56. JUD

    Yup I kind of know exactly how you feel. Last monday I was sweeping the hall. I do this twice a week. But I never move the basket with tennis rackets, for some reason. I accidently did that. There was a leave on the floor and I thought, wow, is that from last fall? But the strange shape reminded me of something. I screamed. It was a dried frog. I do not fear frogs living in the pond, but a dead one in my house… how long has it been laying there? I thought now I beat Jennifer Fulwiler, my hero catholic mom blogger, to it. You can click my blog, http://proevenengeloven.blogspot.nl/2013/07/blog-post.html. It is in dutch but just in case you want to see what a mummified frog looks like. It is really scary, thinking how it got there and how long it must have been there.

  57. Gwen

    New to your blog, Jen, and loving it!

    This post makes me so grateful to live in Michigan. I hate the snow and cold…but living without alligators AND scorpions DEFINITELY has its benefits! And I have to side with you, btw. Give me a huge creature I can easily see over tiny creatures I can’t see any day. Eek.

  58. Samantha S

    I have never, ever been more happy to live in New England.

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