Archive for Friday, September 24, 2010

Officials seize pet caiman from Lawrence residence

Reptile was offered for sale in online ad for $300

An innocent Craigslist ad looking to sell a pet alligator revealed to the owner that it is illegal to own the creature within city limits.

September 24, 2010


This 3-foot Caiman alligator was seized by Lawrence animal control after it was listed for sale in an online ad for $300. It’s now staying at the Prairie Park Nature Center.

This 3-foot Caiman alligator was seized by Lawrence animal control after it was listed for sale in an online ad for $300. It’s now staying at the Prairie Park Nature Center.

On the street

If you could have any exotic animal as a pet, what would it be?

I would like a sugar glider just because they’re cool and they don’t smell and they’re cute and they’re quiet.

More responses

It was an innocent online ad.

But the offer of $300 for a 3-foot caiman — a reptile similar to a crocodile — including the tank, led to a knock on the door from police.

Marilyn Howard said her adult son Patrick was unaware that it was illegal to keep caimans as pets in the city of Lawrence.

“Animal Control and a police officer came to the house and said it was illegal to have an alligator in the city limits and so they took it,” Howard said.

The family got the reptile from a family friend eight years ago.

Their pet was taken to Prairie Park Nature Center, 2730 Harper St., where officials said it would remain for now.

According to Prairie Park officials, the animal could grow as long as 8 feet and live up to 60 years.

They said the reptile had been docile since its arrival.

As for the pet’s former owners, Howard said her son was upset to lose the caiman but thankful that he wouldn’t face any penalties.

“The officers said that because he cooperated they wouldn’t go through with an arrest or a ticket of any kind,” the mother said.

Animal Control and Lawrence police did not return calls for comment Thursday.


John Hamm 7 years ago

Oh for pete's sakes. What isn't illegal in lawrence anymore?

meggers 7 years ago

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kernal 7 years ago

Perhaps you missed the part of the story stating the boy got the alligator eight years ago, when George W was President?

I challenge you to post every day for a solid week without any references to liberals, Dems, or President Obama.

fester0420 7 years ago

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jlzack 7 years ago

what's that got to do with the price of rice in China?

whats_going_on 7 years ago

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puddleglum 7 years ago

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Jimo 7 years ago

"Think I am joking?"

Stephen Colbert never jokes.

bigdave 7 years ago

Population control is on top of my list!

thatonedude 7 years ago

What does the president have to do with a city ordinance?

ksjayhawk74 7 years ago

The city ordinance against having an alligator has been on the books way before Obama came into office with his Communist/Nazi/Muslim anti-alligator totalitarianism.

And it is completely rational is get anti-Obama sentiment from this story.

dontcallmedan 7 years ago

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Erin Graham 7 years ago

......lg40- did you remember your umbrella yesterday when the sky fell?

justoneperson 7 years ago

But seriously, what would someone do with this thing when it grows? Probably not feasible to have an 8 foot alligator as a pet...

It makes me think of the gator spotted in Central Park a few years back, precisely because someone had a "cute little thing" as a pet, and released it once it became too large. Or, I spose you could kill and eat it.

whats_going_on 7 years ago

I think I saw in the news a few weeks ago another alligator found in New York under a car. Just imagine walking out to your vehicle and THAT slithering out. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

del888 7 years ago

This is a clear case of discrimmination. "Cats & dogs, we like your kind - but alligators, you can't live here". The alligator should sue for equal rights.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

When gators are outlawed, only outlaws will have gators.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years ago

Alligators, caimans, crocodiles and the gharial are ALL Crocodilians. There are 23 species falling into three families (Alligatoridae, Crocodylidae and Garialidae). All of the Caimans are in the Alligatoridae. Close though, editor of editors...

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years ago

Well, I'm always tripping. That's the only perspective from which things come close to looking up!~)

Practicality 7 years ago

Call in gator hunters from "Swamp People". Now those guys are nuts!

huskerpower 7 years ago

Why is out local law enforcement scrolling craigslist?

mystifiedalarm 7 years ago

I think this is sad. We are so over policed!!! I really think that Nature Center should pay Patrick for the alligator.

tollef 7 years ago

Let me see if I understand: It is illegal to have in aligator within the city limits of Lawrence.....So we (The Man) will take it and give it a new home WITHIN the city limits of Lawrence (Praire Park Nature center).... Hmm what happend to the law applying to everyone?

jaywalker 7 years ago

And the poster before you thinks we're over policed. You two should get together.

Any chance the thought that the "new home" might actually be licensed to handle a dangerous and exotic, non-indigenous predator ever cross your mind? Ever hear of a zoo? Rumor has it they have lions and tigers and bears.........oh my! And STILL it's probably illegal for anyone to own those animals, now isn't it?

Grow up, folks.

evilpenguin 7 years ago

If something is a public safety issue, surely it's better to nip it in the bud now than wait until the gator gets too big for a house and mysteriously makes it's way to Clinton Lake to feast on your kids?

I'd be interested in knowing why the guy wanted to get rid of the gator though. I read the craigslist ad and there was no mention of why. Was it getting bitey? Was it becoming aggressive? Was it getting too big? I'm all for keeping pets but it seems that sometimes people need to exercise a little common sense in what they keep in their home.

kernal 7 years ago

The alligator is much better off at Prairie Park instead of that confining tank he was in. Obviously the family knew they were not equipped to care for the reptile as he became bigger. Good for them for not dumping it in a lake or river.

fester0420 7 years ago

It was my gator. it was well taken care of, even animal control was impressed with the care given, if you did research you would know they grow to there environment like a fish so it wont grow to 8 ft. as far as the tank, the one u see in the article is theirs, mine was bigger.the only reason i was getting rid of it was im moving and cant bring it with me. I would only have sold it to someone as passionate as me about it. i took care of him for 8 yrs and it never bit anyone or ever had any problems. all the neighborhood kids came to see it almost daily.

fester0420 7 years ago

oh and i already had plans to donate it to the Prairie Park Nature Center if i didn't find a suitable owner, so it really was not even news worthy

BruceWayne 7 years ago

a few things...1) why was your mum your spokesperson? 2) "would've done search warrants and all kinds of stuff" do you have other "pets"? C) you should clean up your mums front porch and yard before you move.

Joe Hyde 7 years ago

Even though the animal was confiscated and is temporarily kept at the Nature Center, I wonder if young Patrick can still advertise on eBay, Craigslist or other places so that the creature might end up with a new owner, someone who does live in a state (or city) where possessing such a pet is legal.

It's kind of a shame that the animal was confiscated from him when all he was trying to do in the first place was get himself rid of it. The confiscation places a burden on the Nature Center, a care-giving burden the Center might not be as well-equipped to handle as what Patrick had been providing?

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

The nature center already has one there so at least he will hve company.

Grundoon Luna 7 years ago

I think it will have a fine home at the Nature Center. They have good, caring poeple working there who will take good care of Mr. Al E. Gator. I donated a way cool tiger wolf spider to them a few years back. My son wanted a visitation several weeks later so we walked up there. He was still around and they were using him/her in one of their educational settings.

Matthew Del Vecchio 7 years ago

Kudos to the LPD. The law may be silly yes, but you managed to enforce it with an appropriate level of force. Glad to see you listened to the family before breaking out the cuffs or the ticket book.

fester0420 7 years ago

actually it is not true. i bought the gator before there was ever any ordinance from pet world here in town i even still have the receipt . it was grandfathered in and not illegal for me to have him. i could have fought it and would have won. i only gave it up because i was moving and could not take him with me. another LPD miss.

fester0420 7 years ago

to HedleyLamarrr (anonymous) yes it does i did my investigating when the ordinance went into law

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

Let me start by saying I have no problem with a person owning a alligator if they want to and they have the proper space for it. There is no grandfather clause in the City of Lawrence code. That however is irrelevant since species protected under state and federal law are prohibited. I will say it is arbitrary though. The code allows for reptiles under 8 ft in length. The problem with that is that many reptiles exceed 8 feet at maturity. I have a problem with the city allowing the sale of reptiles that can grow beyond that, because once they are that size citizens are required to dispose of them. A local pet store sells pythons, these can and do grow beyond 8 ft.
The city of Lawrence lacks enforcement of pet stores. Case in point, a few years ago a child wanted a hedge hog and pleaded with the city to amend the code. There were already hedge hogs being bred and sold within the city limits. Prior to the amendment the city code was being violated.

whats_going_on 7 years ago


I'm glad he's not going to get any tickets or anything.

puddleglum 7 years ago

where's smitty and alex?

wasn't this some kind of conspiracy to set up the gator-seller? if only he had a pawn license, then he wouldn't have lost his gator? where is the cover-up? Why did this sting operation only take ten minutes when they took 6 years for Y/H? shout gator corruption !

Boston_Corbett 7 years ago

I bet they are legal in Eudora. Or Topeka.

Thank God LPD had the good sense to not write a ticket.

JustNoticed 7 years ago

Steaks, chops and lots of rich, meaty soup. And I mean made from the Caiman, not from lawrenceguy40, although the world would be safer if either recipe were used.

FishandGame 7 years ago


LPD is off base here. Sue them.

Mari Aubuchon 7 years ago

Would you want this "pet" near you and your kids and animals? Let us recall the one who was found near the day care center in West Lawrence five years ago We never found out if it had escaped or was abandoned, but, either way, it was the result of irresponsibility. Even a caiman of this small a size can send an adult human to the hospital with a bite they will not forget. .

I have known a pretty wide variety of reptiles who were kept as pets. From a rescue iguana to various lizards and a rather wide variety of snakes. There are quite a few reptiles that can be kept as pets with the proper care and safety precautions. Reptiles or amphibians should be kept around young children or those with compromised immune systems because of the risk of salmonella.

Given its size at eight years and appearance, I'm pretty sure that this is a female Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman. They may be small, but they are known to be a particularly aggressive species. In addition to being difficult to manage, they require an enclosure that has a "land" area that is at least three times their length in both length and width with a water area that is even larger. Add to that the need to heat the air and water to the 80s-90s with areas that are warmer and cooler and we are talking about a lot of space and expense.

Why would anyone want to keep a crocodilian of any size or species as a pet?

Local, state, and federal laws prohibit many animals from being kept as pets for because they are endangered, invasive, dangerous, or have needs that are extremely difficult for non-professionals to meet. I have to agree with them.

Mari Aubuchon 7 years ago

EDIT: That would be: Reptiles or amphibians should NOT be kept around young children...

Kontum1972 7 years ago

take him down to yellow house...

9070811 7 years ago

I wish we could "like" comments like we can on Facebook! I totes double like this

riverdrifter 7 years ago

When the cops came to the door the kid should've said "I deny the allegation and the alligator." !

1029 7 years ago

What if there are other people in Lawrence who own gators because they didn't know they were illegal? Could these people bring their gators to the nature center without getting arrested? Or maybe somewhere else? They might not have known that gators were illegal and didn't intend to break the law. It would be a shame if there was no way for people to get rid of their gators without fear of being arrested and they had to dump them in the Kaw or Clinton Lake.

Another question would be: Is there a place where someone could take their gator and have it transformed into boots and a hat or something? Or would it be illegal to wear those sorts of items in Lawrence?

gatekeeper 7 years ago

How many gators do you have? And no, you can't just take them somewhere to have them made into boots. There are strict rules about owning alligators and being able to harvest them for there skins, even in FL where they're everywhere.

yankeevet 7 years ago

Did they read the gator his rights?

blindrabbit 7 years ago

This goes back to the 1950's, but Grant's Pet Shop in the 1200 or 1300 block of Connecticut Street (Lawrence) just North of the old McAllister School used to sell caimens that they kept in an old bathtub. I took one home and I thought my mom was going to do more damage to me than the bite I got from toothy. these caimens get to be larger than alligators and not as big as crocs; but they are very aggressive.

People get allidials and crocagators mixed up all the time; even the University of Florida (Gators) has a croc as a mascot.

blindrabbit 7 years ago

Was driving somewhere in rural Arkansas several years ago; and was greeted by a sign welcoming us the the High School mascot "Home of The Sand Lizards". Never did figure out the critter or why chosen. At least TCU and the "Horned Frogs" AKA horney toads makes sense.

jlzack 7 years ago

Seriously, who'd want a gator for a pet.... you can't walk them, pet them,( I don't think so).. & there's no gator sleeping on the foot of my bed...... I think I'll stick with the dog....

blindrabbit 7 years ago

Caymans is islands. Caimans is critters.

budwhysir 7 years ago

my buddy Bob once told me a story about a guy who had a worm for a pet. That dang thing was crazy. Used to take him everywhere, to the store and fishing. that worm could do anything. We once put him in a bottle of tequila and never could get him out.

bearded_gnome 7 years ago

two things inquiring minds want to know: what is the Caiman's name?!?

As for the pet’s former owners, Howard said her son was upset to lose the caiman but thankful that he wouldn’t face any penalties.

---so, the Caiman won't face any penalties?

---and, if he's male [we can't count nietherr] what's the gender of the nature center's incumbent Caiman? hearts and roses in the future??

how do you know when a Caiman is ... ahem ... excited?

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