alligators from heaven

The story that alligators haunt the sewer system of New York City is thought to be an apocryphal one, possibly started by Thomas Pynchon’s mention of it in his novel V. But tales of out-of-place crocodilians have persisted for years.


“On December 26, 1877, no less than the New York Times reported the following: “Dr. J.L. Smith of Silverton Township, South Carolina, while opening up a new turpentine farm, noticed something fall to the ground and commence to crawl toward the tent where he was sitting. On examining the object he found it to be an alligator. In a few moments a second one made its appearance. The doctor looked around to see if he could discover any more, and found six others within a space of two hundred yards. The animals were all quite lively, and about twelve inches in length. The place whereon they fell is situated on high sandy ground about six miles north of the Savannah River.”


A similar story emerged in 1957, courtesy of writer John Toland, who told the story of the U.S. Navy airship Macon. In 1934 the Macon had participated in maneuvers in the Caribbean and was sailing westward on its return trip. As it was entering the sky over California on the afternoon of May 17, the commander, Robert Davis, heard a loud splashing over his head from one of the ballast bags.

Concerned, he climbed into the rigging as the splashing grew louder and louder. He opened the ballast bag and looked in. Swimming around excitedly was a two-foot alligator. No one had any idea where it came from. They had been in the air for several days and it seemed highly improbable that this big, noisy creature could have been with them all that time without being heard. Moreover, Davis had been up and around the ship ever since their departure, and he had seen nothing so out of the ordinary as an alligator.

The only possible explanation – though it made no sense at all – was that the reptile had fallen on the ballast bag from above.


Most people have heard of fish and frogs falling from the sky. The explanation usually given is that a tornado or strong whirlwind picked up the animals from a shallow body of water and carried them some distance before dropping them back on land.

Mouse rides frog during Indian typhoon

In 1890, Popular Science News reported that blood rained down on Messignadi, Calabria in Italy – bird’s blood. It was speculated that the birds were somehow torn part by violent winds, although there were no such winds at the time. And no other parts of the bird came down – just blood.

J. Hudson’s farm in Los Nietos Township, California endured a rain of flesh and blood for three minutes in 1869. The grisly fall covered several acres.

“Blood Rain” India

The American Journal of Science confirmed a shower of blood, fat and muscle tissue that fell on a tobacco farm near Lebanon, Tennessee in August, 1841. Field workers, who actually experienced this weird shower, said they heard a rattling noise and saw “drops of blood fall from a red cloud which was flying over them.”

The most amazing of these stories was actually proven factual… but not supernatural. Sometime around 1990, a Japanese fishing boat was sunk in off the eastern coast of Siberia by a falling cow. When the crew of the wrecked ship were fished from the water, they told authorities that they had seen several cows falling from the sky, and that one of them crashed straight through the deck and hull. At first the fishermen were arrested for trying to perpetrate an insurance fraud, but were released when their story was verified. It seems that a Russian transport plane carrying stolen cattle was flying overhead. When the movement of the herd within the plane threw it off balance, the plane’s crew, to avoid crashing, opened the loading bay at the tail of the aircraft and drove them out to fall into the water below.

image from Canstructions

Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 6:25 am  Comments (38)  
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  1. here we have monitor lizards that look like alligators. quite scary looking but they’re pretty harmless.

  2. Flying cows? Fascinating.
    That reminds me, my ex-wife is coming to visit soon.

    • Now we can see why she’s an ex.

  3. Brilliant stuff! This is the sort of material that is food and drink for my favourite magazine the Fortean Times

  4. Huh. I am fascinated. Rains of blood and flesh, flying alligators, cows from the sky. What else could happen?

    This post seems like a natural lead in for another talking about frozen blocks of waste falling from airplanes and other un-natural disasters.

    • apparently William Shatner is presenting a television program in Sydney tonight on that very subject!

  5. Well, this is strange. I’m in the process of gathering photos to do a Tom Otterness post. His stuff is everywhere out here. And this afternoon I’m taking The Daughters to the Canstruction exhibit at the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan. Synchronicity!

    • I hadn’t heard of Tom until I did some research for this post. I like amusing art.

  6. I wouldn’t even wish a cow to fall on even my greatest enemy! It’s much too scary…

    • They should yell “MOOOOOve” right before they hit you.

  7. I have to agree with Healing Hands on this one. Alligators and frogs are one thing but with the rise of air transport we should all be on the lookout for “Blue Ice” that falls from airplane toilets.

    Talk about having a crappy day!!

  8. Dropping alligators from the sky sounds like a failed US military experiment. Like the gay bomb.

    • I thought the gay bomb worked a treat 😉

  9. The canstruction cow is awesome! The rains of blood and flesh, not so much. 🙂

  10. the south carolina gators can easily be explained – the good Doctor was high on turpentine fumes… i usually see anacondas when i’m huffing.

    • I see pink elephants if I take too much migraine medication

  11. Love alligator stories…the flesh and blood falling from the sky–what a terrible image! Here in Florida, we live and breathe alligators. You never know where one will turn up. Every now and then you hear a story of one showing up at a school, a giant alligator in a sewage drain, etc. Some people here still freak out, forgetting they were here first. Others learn to live with them. Still others, like me, love them. They’re really fascinating. Nothing like canoeing down the Myakka River with gators at your side.

    • Are you not in the least bit scared of them?

  12. Yes, many many instances have been written about, where animals fall from the sky. Seeding, probably, from gene splicing experiments. The planet’s caretakers have to improve the stock, you know, and evolution is just SO slow.

  13. All Cows should be Tetherd.

    The King

    • Very droll 😉

  14. It’s a bit like the “shark up the river” tales we hear in Australia.Mostly true.
    And where I live we have estuarine crocodiles.

    • That’s an excellent post Dinah. I love the photo and information about the long necked turtle

  15. If I ever experience a shower of blood or a rain of frogs, serpents or any other reptile (small mammals would be ok, I guess) just call the white coats because my fragile mind would snap like a… like an alligators jaw.

  16. Pret-a-Manger occasionally offer alligator sandwiches. They don’t make a lot – to get one, you have to be snappy.

  17. The wonders of Tornados

  18. The only good alligator is either deep fried or slow roasted with new potatoes (spelling courtesy of Dan Quail).

    • What’s wrong with the spelling of potatoes?

  19. I shall be checking the sky before venturing into the garden again

  20. Reminds me of the film ‘The Gods Must be Crazy’ where the coke can falls from the sky.

  21. Cows pushed out of passing planes. That is sufficient explanation for all those “rains of blood and other body parts”. Passing time-travelling planes or possibly UFO’s. It is not only the Gods who are crazy. (I re-watched both the GMBC videos over the weekend.)

  22. I always have a weird feeling that an alligator, snake, rat, etc will swim up the toilet plumbing, and bite my ass. Now I’m really worried, because a cow sinking a ship would seem impossible to some…

    • Here we usually just worry about red back spiders

  23. I would seriously never go outside again…

    • Not even for a free toffee appletini on a rooftop bar in Manhattan?

  24. I’m totally mailing some of my molars out to people. I just like that idea. Hopefully today they’ll get there sooner. I hope the post office drug-beagles don’t get there first as many of my molars have been eaten away by the PCP. We’ll see.

  25. The photo of the mouse riding a frog looks like something that my mom would forward to me with the subject line, “DON’T DELETE! TOO CUTE! YOU’LL HAVE BAD LUCK FOREVER AND IN THE NEXT LIFE TOO IF YOU DON’T FORWARD THIS TO 25 OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS.”

    That might explain my spate of bad luck, now that I think of it.

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