An Alligator Smile?
Two-Toed Tom  supposedly
mocked residents of Florida
and Alabama for years, killing
both people and livestock.
Battling a Monster Alligator
This painting by the French
artist LeMoyne shows Florida
Indians battling massive
alligators. - Two-Toed Tom, Alabama & Florida - Two-Toed Tom, Alabama & Florida
Two-Toed Tom - Alligator Monster of Florida and Alabama
A Descendant of Two-Toed Tom?
If the legends are to be believed, Two-Toed Tom is a
monstrous demon-possessed "bull gator."
A Deep South Monster Legend
The following is excerpted from the book
Two Egg, Florida: A Collection of Ghost
Stories, Legends and Unusual Facts
. More
information on the book can be found at

The story was old even before writer and
University of Alabama professor Carl Carmer
heard it during the 1930s.

Deep in the swamps along the Alabama-
Florida border, residents told tales of
legendary battles with a monster they called
“Two-Toed Tom.” Carmer was fascinated
with the story and included it in his critically-
acclaimed but controversial book,
Stars Fell
on Alabama

When Carmer first learned of Two-Toed Tom,
at some point during the 1920s, the beast
was described as a “red-eyed hell-demon” in
alligator form, about fourteen feet long and
greatly feared by the rural residents along the
Florida line near Florala. The reptile had
been well-known in the area for more than
twenty years and was accused of eating
cows and mules and even blamed for
assaulting several local women. According to
Carmer, the monster received its name from
the unusual footprints it left behind.
Supposedly he had lost all but two of the toes
on his left front foot to a steel trap. Two-Toed
Tom also had survived numerous shootings
and at least one dynamite attack, none of
which seemed to have bothered him.

The well-known dynamite attack was
launched after the alligator emerged from the
swamps near Florala and killed a mule on
the farm of a local resident named Pap
Haines. The farmer had been waging a
twenty year war with Two-Toed Tom and was
so irate over the loss of his mule that he
decided to go after the beast with as much
firepower as possible.

According to Carmer’s account, Haines and
his son packed fifteen syrup buckets with
sticks of dynamite, lit the fuses, and threw the
buckets into the pond where the alligator was
believed to be hiding. The explosions
shredded every living thing in the pond,
uprooted trees and sent geysers of water
high up into the air.

No sooner had they ended their attack,
however, than the men – now joined by eight
of their neighbors – suddenly heard a
monstrous splashing sound from another
nearby pond. The splashes were punctuated
by the sounds of screams. By the time all the
men could reach the scene, all they could
see were the red eyes of Two-Toed Tom
sinking into the pond. The half-eaten
remains of Haines’ twelve year old
granddaughter were found on the shore.

A wave of sightings of a giant beast soon
spread through the Choctawhatchee River
and Holmes Creek swamps of Holmes,
Walton and Washington Counties, Florida.
Cattle and livestock disappeared from farms
and the countryside was generally terrorized
by this new threat that had crossed the line
from Alabama.
A monstrous alligator was spotted in Sand
Hammock Lake, a large body of water near
Esto in northern Holmes County. It could be
heard bellowing every morning and it was not
long before people began finding tell-tale two-
toed tracks in the sand.

A group of local teenagers who saw him
reported that he was much larger than
previously estimated - from eighteen to
twenty-four feet. Efforts to kill him with rifles
and shotguns failed.

In the 1980s, however, people who
remembered the tales were stunned by
news that Two-Toed Tom apparently was still
alive. An alligator “slide” or path of enormous
size was discovered on Boynton Island on
the Choctawahtchee. A monstrous gator had
walked across a sandbar and climbed the
muddy bank to the island. Close inspection
of the tracks revealed that one of its feet had
only two toes.

The discovery prompted a new frenzy of
monster reports and a reward for proof of his
existence sparked hunts for Two-Toed Tom
that even received national attention from
NBC news. Tom, however, was never found.

The legend of the demon-possessed
monster still lingers on and many believe
that it still hides somewhere in the swamps
of Northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama.

The story of Two-Toed Tom is a major part of
the folklore of the Esto area of Northwest
Florida, as well as of parts of South Alabama.
Similar stories have been told elsewhere
across the South, but Tom's tale is thought to
be the best documented.
An Alligator in the Florida Sun
Alligators once almost
vanished from the South, but
have rebounded in recent
A Large Alligator in Florida
This large alligator measured
over 10 feet, less than half of
the last reported estimate of
Two-Toed Tom's length.
Copyright 2011 & 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: November 14, 2012
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