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.


bearded_gnome 3 years, 6 months 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?


budwhysir 3 years, 6 months 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.


blindrabbit 3 years, 6 months ago

Caymans is islands. Caimans is critters.


jlzack 3 years, 6 months 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 3 years, 6 months 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.


Hydra 3 years, 6 months ago

Quick call the feds and charge the kid with willfull ignorance!!


blindrabbit 3 years, 6 months 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.


MacHeath 3 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the dept of Wildlife and Parks should consider stocking Clinton lake with alligator to control the grass carp!


yankeevet 3 years, 6 months ago

Did they read the gator his rights?


1029 3 years, 6 months 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?


riverdrifter 3 years, 6 months ago

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


Kontum1972 3 years, 6 months ago

take him down to yellow house...


Mari Aubuchon 3 years, 6 months 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.


FishandGame 3 years, 6 months ago


LPD is off base here. Sue them.


JustNoticed 3 years, 6 months 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.


Boston_Corbett 3 years, 6 months ago

I bet they are legal in Eudora. Or Topeka.

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


puddleglum 3 years, 6 months 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 !


whats_going_on 3 years, 6 months ago


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


Matthew Del Vecchio 3 years, 6 months 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.


Joe Hyde 3 years, 6 months 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?


evilpenguin 3 years, 6 months 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.


HedleyLamarrr 3 years, 6 months ago

zebras have caused more injuries per capita in Lawrence than gators.


tollef 3 years, 6 months 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?


mystifiedalarm 3 years, 6 months ago

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


huskerpower 3 years, 6 months ago

Why is out local law enforcement scrolling craigslist?


Practicality 3 years, 6 months ago

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


autie 3 years, 6 months ago

oh....and dear editor: The caiman is a crocodilian but is not an alligator. Close though.


Flap Doodle 3 years, 6 months ago

When gators are outlawed, only outlaws will have gators.


del888 3 years, 6 months 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.


justoneperson 3 years, 6 months 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.


consumer1 3 years, 6 months ago

U vil surrender de Ali gator or u vill be punished severly! Achtung !!


Healthcare_Moocher 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't you have something better to do?


OonlyBonly 3 years, 6 months ago

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


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