Urban Life

Reid Farmer’s browsing of the L.A. Times finds this report of a lost South American reptile at large in the suburbs. The animal is believed to be a spectacled caiman, estimated at 6 to 8 feet and possibly 200 pounds, which must be a big one if the caiman I knew from Panama are any comparison.

From the story by Ashley Powers, Times Staff Writer:

“The reptile, which has a jaw like a steel trap, has been playing hide-and-seek in Machado Lake with its hunters, who are armed with just a few nets and a raw chicken….”‘One fellow said he was fishing and it came up on shore. He said he cast the line out and hooked it,’ said Kevin Regan, assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. ‘Someone said kids were throwing tortillas at it, flour tortillas.'”

Steve Bodio thinks this quote brings the story up to snuff as blog-fodder here:

“‘It’s such an urban area, people just don’t see [wildlife]…and they’re like,
‘Oh, nature!’ It scares them,'”

I agree–not that nature is scary (though some of it is and should be!), but that people just don’t see it where they don’t expect it. For perhaps obvious reasons, we don’t expect “real” nature to find us in the suburbs.

Whether or not an escaped pet crocodilian qualifies as real nature, its present setting in a California city park makes it a surprising find. In other places, large reptiles are quite at home in the urban jungle.

Soon after moving to Louisiana, some local friends (two of them biologists) took me out in a canoe, loaded with beer and headlamps, for an evening of hands-on alligator “labwork” ten minutes from the French Quarter. We caught many by hand (small ones, naturally) and snared a few monsters with noose poles once the alcohol kicked in. I needn’t say it was dumb, dumb, dumb. While three of us sat on the back of an exhausted leviathan we drug ashore, this began to dawn on us: Um, what next?

(No reptiles or people were injured in the events described above.)

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