First off, I just can’t stop putting old song lyric references in my titles. I’ve tried. It’s an addiction. This one is from the old Grateful Dead song, aptly named (for the purposes of this piece) Alligator. Yesterday, I had occasion to check out something I wouldn’t have thought we’d see wandering around loose on the Chesapeake Bay, an alligator. Well, it was a caiman, actually, but close enough.
A few days ago, the Humane Society in Kent County got a call from a meter reader who, while going about his rounds in Rock Hall, approached a house only to have an alligator jump out at him. And I thought German Shepherds were trouble for meter readers. I guess that’s one way to keep the electric company at bay. Also, he incorrectly called the much smaller animal a gator, but I doubt he had the time to parse sub-species information. Have you seen the movie Lake Placid? If a gator ever jumps out at me somewhere, I’m not stopping to ask its ethnicity, either.
Anyway, it was later discovered that someone in the area was keeping the caiman as a pet and, being small, sleek and really fast, it managed to escape its owners. After being informed that it was against the law to own a caiman, the owner agreed to turn it over to the Humane Society once they managed to recapture it. Fortunately, the caiman didn’t eat any neighborhood pets and, other than scaring off the meter reader, just hung out under its owners’ house until being lured out with some food, where they snapped up the nearly 3-foot long reptile. Yesterday, the Humane Society found a new home for the caiman, turning it over to Plumpton Park Zoo in Rising Sun, where they already have another caiman or two for him to hang out with.
According to the Zoo, this particular caiman is about four years old. Like other reptile species, they are long-lived, sometimes reaching ages of 70 or 80 years, making this one a relative youngster. Caiman, also like other members of the alligator family tree, are an endangered species, with far too many of them ending up as shoes, belts, wallets or luggage, hence the illegality of owning them. Well, that and they’re more agile than regular alligators and have longer, sharper teeth. Not exactly a replacement for the terrier as a family pet. This particular guy was actually pretty laid back, and he just hung out in the cage in the Humane Society van for the long ride. I’m sure he’s looking forward to finding a good home at the zoo. And meter readers everywhere can breathe a little easier today.