Apothecary Alligator YKTTW Discussion

Apothecary Alligator
The workshops of apothecaries, alchemists, and wizards always have a stuffed alligator.
(permanent link) added: 2011-02-27 23:00:38 sponsor: PaulA (last reply: 2011-05-31 09:08:46)

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(previous working title: Ceiling Crocodile)

The magical equivalent of a Mad Scientist Laboratory is never complete without a stuffed crocodile or alligator hanging from the ceiling.


  • The description of the apothecary's shop in Romeo and Juliet, Act V Scene I:
    And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
    An alligator stuff'd, and other skins
    Of ill-shaped fishes
  • "The Alchemist at Work", painting by David Teniers the Elder
  • "The Return of the Sorcerer" by Clark Ashton Smith:
    There were tables strewn with archaic instruments of doubtful use, with astrological charts, with skulls and alembics and crystals, with censers such as are used in the Catholic Church, and volumes bound in worm-eaten leather with verdigris-mottled clasps. In one corner stood the skeleton of a large ape; in another, a human skeleton; and overhead a stuffed crocodile was suspended.
  • Merlyn's cottage in The Once and Future King:
    There was a real corkindrill hanging from the rafters, very life-like and horrible with glass eyes and scaly tail stretched out behind it. When its master came into the room it winked one eye in salutation, although it was stuffed.
  • Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
  • Lord Portico's study in Neverwhere:
    The stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling; the leather-bound books, an astrolabe, convex and concave mirrors, odd scientific instruments
  • Frequently mentioned, and lampshaded as a occupational necessity, in the Discworld series.
    • The Light Fantastic:
      Like all wizards' workshops, the place looked as though a taxidermist had dropped his stock in a foundry and then had a fight with a maddened glassblower, braining a passing crocodile in the process (it hung from the rafters and smelt strongly of camphor).
    • Mort:
      There was a large crystal ball with a crack in it, an astrolabe with several bits missing, a rather scuffed octogram on the floor, and a stuffed alligator hanging from the ceiling. A stuffed alligator is absolutely standard equipment in any properly-run magical establishment. This one looked as though it hadn't enjoyed it much.
  • The dog wizard Tibbeth's shop in Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly:
    A mummified crocodile hung from the low rafters overhead
  • An early edition of The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein shows, on the cover, a scene set in a wizard's sanctum. You can tell it's a wizard's sanctum because of the stuffed crocodile hanging from the roof -- an interesting case of trope-as-shorthand, since the wizards' sanctum in the book itself is entirely bereft of taxidermied reptiles.
  • The Voodoo Lady in The Curse of Monkey Island has a stuffed alligator whose tongue you have to pull to summon her.
  • Mentioned in Book 1 of The Bartimaeus Trilogy in the description of the magician Arthur Underwood's study. Bart notes that this is a good indication that Underwood is distinctly second rate and trying to hide it; truly powerful magicians favor a sleek, modern look.
  • Call of Cthulhu campaign The Fungi from Yuggoth, adventure "The Thing in the Well". Dr. Cornwallis has a stuffed alligator hanging by wires from the ceiling of his alchemical laboratory.
  • In "One Good Knight" (from the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey), one character comments that the Tradition requires Acadian magicians to have a stuffed crocodile hanging from their rafters. Which makes one wonder how Solon managed to hide the fact that he's a magician...

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