Home » Gate Guarding » Never Smile at a Crocodile

Never Smile at a Crocodile

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin ~ Rolf Harris

In November, we took a short trip to Louisiana and spent some time on the bayou. Although I don’t consider myself much of a Swamp Person, unlike Heidi who has a peculiar affinity for swamps, I found the Louisiana bayou to be surprisingly beautiful.

We took a three hour tour. It was just like The Minnow except there were just the four of us, plus Chris, our captain, and we didn’t get lost, and we were in an airboat on the swamp going 50 mph. It was a grand adventure!

We shot across the marsh and the trees and the lily pads as seamlessly as we did the water. The herons and egrets were beautiful.The nurtia, not so much.

To bring attention to South Louisiana’s endangered wetlands, designer Cree McCree held a fashion show at House of Yes in Williamsburg starring Righteous Fur pelts made from nutria — the huge rodent that has a serious appetite for swamp plants and is endangering the nation’s ecosystem….The crowd was split on the huge orange, crescent-shaped nutria teeth that dangled from some of the hems… ~New York Fashion

If you know southern swamps, you probably know about nurtrias. This was my first encounter and it was an up close and muddy one. I’m no fashionista, but really, would you want to wear this guy’s pelt and teeth? He was kind of a cross between the biggest, ugliest rat and a beaver with a sorry excuse for a tail. Chris was a real hands on type of guy.

Our furry friend shared a good deal of his mud with me. As did the our next guests. Chris just kept offering me his pant leg to use as a towel. Funny. Have you noticed that the one with the camera is always the only one who gets dirty. By the time the trip was over, I looked like I’d done some bog hopping. After the nutria encounter, we headed back into private waters.

Long, long ago, I used to have a pretty extensive collection of 33 vinyls. When I was little, they were mostly Disney fairytale/musicals, complete with illustrations. I still know all of the songs from Babes in Toyland and Cinderella and Peter Pan. Every since going to Louisiana, I’ve thought often about Peter Pan. Not Peter Pan himself so much as Captain Hook. Not really Captain Hook so much as the crocodile that had designs on him. Rolf Harris has taken Never Smile at a Crocodile from Peter Pan and had some fun with it.


According to Animal Planet all alligators are crocodiles but not all crocodiles are alligators.

This is an alligator. His inspired name is Big Al. He’s 13 feet long, which is something of a dinosaur. He’s entirely unperturbed by visitors.

His neighbor, Bella, was lying in wait for us. She was smaller, 11 feet, which, believe me, feels plenty big when she decides to climb into your little wooden boat. She was waiting for her coot. The fact that she knew the routine, didn’t mean she was tame.

At this point my foot was about a foot from her nose. Chris shot a coot the day before. I was pretty pleased. I’m a tough enough old bird that if there hadn’t been a coot, I’m not sure she wouldn’t have been content with something fresher.

I was already muddy from the nutria and I wasn’t keen on being dinner. These photos aren’t zoomed which is why you can see her tonsils but not her webbed feet.

I’m not sure how many crocodiles I may have smiled at in zoos. I now know that if an alligator is smiling back at me on the bayou, it may have dinner on its mind.

Never smile at a crocodile
Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day
Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile ~ Rolf Harris

If only I’d gone to the Louisiana bayou before I started gate guarding, it would have changed everything.

If we still don’t have a job tomorrow, I’ll tell you why.

22 thoughts on “Never Smile at a Crocodile

  1. Hi Debbie,

    Some amazing photos here. I am an artist and I am doing a project based on the Louisiana bayous. I was wondering if I could seek your permission to use your photos as reference material. I won’t be using your photos in my piece, but would love to use them as inspiration. Please let me know if that is ok with you.

    Either way, great pics!



    • Hello Judi!
      I’m wondering if my fear chip is starting to malfunction. It’s rattlesnake season down here, so I’ll find out soon enough, I expect.
      Singing along with you,

      • Haiti – no electric…you’re supposed to not walk at night. Little flashlight and others with cell phones for light. The big black fuzzy thing was 6 inches from my foot. Thankfully it ran or I might have had too. We won’t always know until we’re confronted but “His perfect love casts out fear.” I’ll try and hang on to that! Hope you’re spared the test!

    • Judi – A tarantula or worse, or a ‘better off not knowing’?
      You are one BRAVE woman!
      I always pray for safety for the guys on the rigs (our past and present ones). Sounds like I’d better add you and Greg to the list! 😀
      You aren’t only brave, you do it all for Love. You’re really quite amazing!

  2. Nice little creatures here…and people think I’m nuts because I climb towers, or how about walking around a tank of liquid propane gas (2000 gallons) with a lit torch? It’s not really dangerous if you know what you are doing! 🙂

    Have a great day Debbie!

    • Well hi there, Greg!
      The difference here might be that:
      1. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did trust the guide
      2. I only did it ONCE! (although I’d love to go back)
      (I was a little surprised when the alligator started climbing in the boat and when the nutria spayed my head with mud – but it was great fun!)
      Neither smell particularly good, as you might imagine.
      3. I have adventures, but I don’t take real risks – NOTHING like climbing water towers or walking around gallons of propane with a lit torch. 😀
      Your life is definitely edger than mine!

      I hope you had a grand day, yourself! And I hope you have excellent insurance! 😉

  3. Sis, I am SO Not envious of your adventures!! God bless and keep you SAFE! Your Caddo Delighted-and-glinting-with-Shekina Glory

      • My adventuresome Caddo spirit is limited to the Internet, I’m afraid (although I realize there are cyber-crocs too)–sorry if I’ve let you down, Sis!

      • Caddo – LOL! You could NEVER let me down! And it’s the cyber crocs that are really scary – you’ve got that right! They’ll chew you up and spit you out and they can do it anonymously!

  4. Wow, what an experience. I’ve never seen quite a display of crocodiles or alligators. I look forward to seeing a swamp after reading your comments. I promise not to pet anything with so many teeth !

    • melis – We had such a great guide, and since it was just the four of us – it was quite a grand adventure. He also pulled crab traps for us – showing us the blue crabs. The alligators we met were expecting us.
      Still – I’m a city girl so it was a little closer than I’d expected to get to so many teeth! 😀

  5. I love the Louisiana bayous. We like going to the northern LA area and southern areas as well. Next time we go I want to take an airboat tour. We did take a car trip all around the Louisiana Outback in Cameron Parish near Sulphur and Lake Charles. It was so cool. I just love the Bald Cypress trees with knees!

    • Vicky – I’ll look up the name of the folks we went with. The price was really reasonable and WOW did we ever get our money’s worth! I love those old knees, too!

  6. My summer experiences always included a fair amount of time around the water. Eventually, my loft bedroom overlooked a Minnesota swamp area and I’ve never recovered. I LOVE swamps–the look, the sound the feel.

    I was terrified of the alligator, but the air boat trip was a highlight of the experience of LA.

    • Heidi – I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something wrong with me that none of these things scare me?
      I’ve never really understood your love of swamps until this trip. Now that was truly something! Thanks, T! 😀

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