CLEARWATER, Fla. (FOX 13) - A Clearwater woman was startled to hear a loud crash overnight, but she was even more surprised when she saw the culprit: A 10-foot alligator that had crashed its way into her kitchen.
It was around 3:30 a.m. when Mary Wischhusen had gotten up to go to the bathroom. That's when she came face to face with the intruder.
"I heard this huge, monstrous crash, like the whole roof was falling in on the side of my house," she recalled. "I headed for the kitchen and as I got to the door of the kitchen, I had this beautiful face staring at me as though he belonged there. This 10-foot gator was having a marvelous time sitting in my kitchen."
The alligator had apparently smashed through her floor-to-ceiling windows, then thrashed its way around her condo, knocking over furniture and damaging her walls.
"I decided I wasn't staying there, so I went back to my bedroom and closed the door and called the police," Wischhusen continued. "I was hyperventilating a little, so what I did was I went on the computer and played games to settle down."
LISTEN: 911 calls: Alligator break-in
Ten officers and two trappers arrived to the home on Eagles Landing Circle and led Wischhusen out the back while they spent two hours coaxing and dragging the alligator outside so it could be evaluated for potential relocation.
Several photos shared by Clearwater police showed the large gator, seemingly as long as the kitchen counter itself. Bar stools were toppled over behind it. In one photo, the animal's powerful jaw was wide open, showing the gator's sharp teeth.
"He could have come right after me," Wischhusen added. "I'm very happy he did not come after me."
Wischhusen said she's seen plenty of alligators in her 39 years at the home, which has two golf courses - with lots of water hazards - on each side. But she's not sure why this alligator passed four empty condos and chose hers to break into.
"He was really tying. But it's mating season," she pointed out. "They'll try anything."
Wischhusen credited her 55 years as a nurse with helping her stay calm. But in hindsight, she said, she is most upset that the gator smashed her bottles of red wide - the "good stuff."
"It's all over my floor," she lamented.
"The alligator did suffer minor cuts to a shoulder but the majority of the red liquid on the floor in the photos was wine," a city spokesman confirmed.
Surprised by her newfound fame Friday morning, Wischhusen made sure to credit the officers and the trappers who helped her out.
She seemed to be taking the whole thing in stride, though.
"I think after all these years, if you've been a nurse this long, you've seen everything. He was just added to the book that I need to write," Wischhusen smiled. "It's just amazing."