Mickey is an animal wrangler by trade, and loves what he does for a living. His life is pretty simple: He cares for loads of wild animals that were either injured or abandoned or that he found out in the wild, and he loves his family and depends on them for support. Like he says to Wahoo, "What would I do without you and your mom? I'm lucky she stuck around all these years" (3.105). We think Mickey has earned his luck, with a heap of hard work and love.
Wahoo's dad lacks the subtly that his son uses to get along with everyone. Mickey is… shall we say… outspoken. He's frank, a quality that is both refreshing and sometimes problematic—like when he notices that Ol' Sleepy the gator is stuffed and Link says it isn't:
"That gator's way beyond sleepy."
"Let it go, Pop," Wahoo implored.
"But they're lyin' to everybody! It's a scam." […]
"Show some pride brother," he said to Link. "Tell Sickler to put that thing in the gift shop where it belongs." (11.30-33)
So yeah, Mickey is right about Sickler's scheme to wow his customers and ensure he gets paid for a tour complete with alligators. But with a great big bear of a man like Link threatening him to keep quiet or else, Mickey just can't keep his trap shut to save his life… and so he is thrown overboard.
Mickey is the real deal, which places him in stark contrast to Derek, who is a phony. When it comes to living things and the earth, Mickey is all business. His passion for animals and respect for nature makes him a very likeable character, and you can count on him to speak his mind. While Mickey is ticking off Link by arguing that the stuffed gator is dead, Wahoo says, "Tourists don't know any better," and Mickey shows his true character when he replies, "I wasn't talkin' about the tourists, son. I was talkin' about nature—it is an insult to nature putting a stuffed specimen in the middle of the swamp" (11.34). We can see that Mickey really does mean well and that his big mouth is not intended to just make others mad, but to advocate for himself and what he believes in. He has courage.
We think Mickey is one cool dad. All he wants in life is to enjoy his family and surround himself with animals, which he thinks are way less complicated and confusing than people. He is very put out by not being able to work or function normally because of his concussion, but he trusts Wahoo to see them all through. He relies on Wahoo to make some pretty big decisions and listens to him defend these choices before making his own judgment. Like Wahoo says, "My father can take care of himself" (23.100), but he isn't crazy or too risky. His top priority is keeping his son safe. Because he has an extreme—and at times immature—personality, his character often allows Wahoo to take charge.
Yup, Mickey is pretty tough all right. When it comes to the safety of his animals or his family and friends, Mickey can be, well, a little feisty. Like when Jared Gordon says he is taking Tuna with him:
"That girl's my flesh and blood, Sparky, and I ain't leavin' this swap without her."
"Then you ain't leavin'," Mickey Cray said. (25.38, 39)
Even though Tuna is not his daughter, she is still a young girl, and in Mickey's book that means she needs someone to stick up for her. He will fight tooth and nail to do the right thing, like when he rescued Derek from Alice in his backyard. That was a risky move, but Mickey did it and did it well, without a second thought (7.107). He is willing to sacrifice his life for the good of all. By the end of the book, he changes some of his harsh opinions about Derek after he saves them all.