Alligator's new prosthetic tail works swimmingly

Mr. Stubbs the alligator gets a prosthetic rubber tail to replace the real one that was bitten off years ago.

Mr. Stubbs
Mr. Stubbs poses with his new tail. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Oddly enough, fish and wildlife officers in the dry, desert state of Arizona confiscate a fair number of alligators each year. Unfortunate alligator Mr. Stubbs was one of those captured critters when he was brought to the Phoenix Herpetological Society back in 2005. He arrived minus a very important body part: his tail.

Tailless Mr. Stubbs had to learn how to swim by paddling with his front feet, something that probably caused all the other alligators to snicker at him behind his back. More recently, the society and CORE Institute, a center specializing in orthopedic care for people, banded together to craft a new prosthetic tail for the gator.

The silicone rubber tail has a water drainage hole and is held on with nylon straps. It has been painted to match Mr. Stubbs' natural coloration.

"The fact he doesn't try to bite it (the tail) is a good sign," Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society told USA Today.

It could take months for Mr. Stubbs to forget his dog-paddling ways and learn how to swim with a tail. Until then, he has to wear a bright orange water wing to help him keep afloat. Once he's used to his new limb, he might need a new name as well. How does "Mr. Appendage" sound?

About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.

 

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