By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Before new Detroit Lions wide receiver Kevin Ogletree would move in with Lions safety Louis Delmas, he told Delmas that a certain longtime house guest would have to go.
Ogletree would not stay unless Delmas’ 6-foot pet alligator Mojo found new room and board. The animal, which Delmas got as an egg, lived in a six-foot-by-six-foot tank in the basement and ate two live rats three times a week.
“Mine wasn’t that aggressive with me because I guess it knew my scent,” Delmas said. “It never attacked me at all, so I’d pick it up. I mean of course it’d snap, but it never tried to attack me. Now everybody else, couldn’t even come close to the tank. The minute somebody else come downstairs, there’d be buzzing at the tank.”
Needless to say, Ogletree declined to venture into the basement of his friend’s house.
A Fort Pierce, Fla., native, Delmas had wanted a gator for years, ever since a chance encounter with one as a child – though he did not quite realize it at the time.
“When I was younger, I was swimming in the lake,” Delmas said. “I caught an iguana – thought it was. So I thought it was an iguana, I took it home, and I put it in the backyard, and then my brother came home, and was like, ‘Dude, what are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘I got an iguana!’”
Delmas’ brother did not let the gator hang around. Five years ago, though, Delmas got Mojo. Having outgrown his tank, though, Mojo is now at a pet store and will soon be moved to the Detroit Zoo.
“The hardest part is transporting it over there because nobody wants to mess with a gator,” Delmas said.
What, none of the linemen want to take it over there in one of their trucks?
“Man, I don’t put my hand over there no more!” Delmas said. “If I could do that I’d be dragging it down the street with a leash on it. Forget that.”
Apparently, though, he is not too concerned. He took it to the pet shop, he said, by taping its mouth shut, picking it up and driving it over. Obviously taping its mouth is an important part, Delmas said, lest he be driving and have the gator grab his arm, spinning and doing “the gator roll.”
Despite the dangerous nature of the pet, Delmas misses his Mojo but is glad he has it here versus down south.
“In Florida … any gator over six feet they kill because the population is growing rapidly,” Delmas said, “so I’m glad mine’s up here.”
Another Delmas pet, an albino python, did not meet such a happy end. Delmas said the snake died two years ago, and the story is one that is not for the weak of stomach.
“Snakes, when they’re full and they’re not hungry, they will not eat, no matter what,” Delmas began. “My dumb behind, I put a rat twice a week. He ate the first one. The second one sat there and let the rat feed off him. The rat basically chewed him to death.”
The pet store that Delmas gets the rats from, he says, breeds rats specifically to sate big exotic reptiles.
“The dude that owns the critter store, being that we have exotic animals like gators, he breeds certain rat that are like big – very, very big,” Delmas said. “They’re like damn cats.
“So I guess that rat was a little bit too big,” he added regretfully.
The source of the alligator egg that began this whole pet parade came from former teammate Ernie Sims, who apparently had quite the zoo himself. Delmas said Sims gave him the gator egg, but Delmas could just as well have sneaked one out.
“He wouldn’t even knew if I took it or not,” Delmas said. “At that time he had four gators, he had two 200-pound pythons, he had a monkey. No, seriously! He had king tarantulas that were like bigger than your hand,” he paused, noted the shudder of a reporter, and added, “Yeah, I don’t do tarantulas either. Not at all. But Ernie Sims had his own pet shop at his own. His whole basement was just full of animals.”
Well, as they say, emulation is the sincerest form of flattery.
They might start another saying – stay out of Delmas’ basement.