Wendy Wright is used to the silence and vacancy of the city as she travels her paper route in the predawn hours.
The routine is sleepy and calming. But what the 37-year-old Victoria woman saw Wednesday morning was a true wake-up call.
While getting out of her car to deliver a newspaper onto the porch of a reader, she discovered a 6-foot alligator.
"I was right on top of it," said Wright, who found the reptile about 4 a.m. on the walkway of a home in the 100 block of Lance Lane.
Wright called her supervisor. The Victoria Police Department responded until a game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife showed up to remove the gator and release it into its natural habitat.
A creek runs behind Lance Lane and is filled with water because of the recent rains, which is where Wright suspects it came from.
Gregory Gauthier and Elaine Hendricks, who live at the home, had no idea an alligator had perched itself on their property until the carrier informed them later Wednesday.
"I just wanted to check up on them," Wright said about revisiting the house.
Gauthier and Hendricks once lived in Louisiana and are used to the carnivorous creatures, they said.
"We used to swim in Bayou Des Glaise, and there were gators," Hendricks, 86, said. "We used to call our cousins who lived next door, and we would have a gator barbecue."
Hendricks, who is Gauthier's caretaker, is thankful she did not have to bump into the animal during her morning walk.
When police arrived, the alligator moved to a neighbor's backyard, where it was captured.
Seeing alligators in residential areas is not as uncommon or outlandish as it may sound, said Rex Mayes, Texas Parks and Wildlife supervisor.
"It's a prehistoric animal; you never know where they'll show up," he said. "We've invaded their territory rather than they our territory."
June is also the height of alligator breeding season, he said.
If a game warden is not available to capture the alligator, a person contracted to capture them is called.
Before using contract alligator hunters, Parks and Wildlife would respond to between 50 and 60 cases a year. Most were found in backyards, garages and in swimming pools, he said.
"You see them around rivers, creeks and reservoirs. They're a water animal," he said. "This has always been a historical area for them."
Despite being somewhat used to alligators, Hendricks said she has never seen one so close to a city neighborhood. She jokes that she would have handled the gator the Louisiana way.
"That alligator was very lucky. If we had caught it, we'd be having alligator sauce picante," she said, laughing.