Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/10/06/cornish_gator_alert/

Gator menaces Cornish duck pond

Dragnet fails to locate rogue reptile

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 6th October 2005 09:55 GMT

The residents of a Cornish village are on full-scale 'gator alert following the discovery of a two-foot cayman in the local duck pond.

According to the Daily Telegraph, 20-year-old Stacey Clayton and daughter Alanna were feeding the ducks in the village pond at St Blazey when mum saw what she thought was a large log floating in the water. In this case, however, the log had eyes and when Clayton chucked at stone at it, it rather alarmingly scuttled off into the undergrowth.

A shaken Clayton recounted: "I noticed this big log in the water, but as I got closer I saw its eyes. I wasn't sure whether it was alive so I threw a stone near it. It lifted its head and looked straight at me. I saw its tail and a dozen teeth coming down from its top jaw. I went home and called the RSPCA. My dad said it was probably a cayman."

An RSPCA dragnet of the area surrounding the pond failed to locate the beast, and the organisation warned locals to keep their eyes peeled for rogue reptiles. It did note, however, that the cold may already have done for the animal.

The RSPCA added that the Cornish cayman incident "highlighted the problem of people keeping exotic animals with little or no knowledge of the care they require".

Gator versus pythonQuite so, although the good Burghers of St Blazey can consider themselves lucky they don't live in the Everglades, where a recent encounter between a six-foot alligator and a 13-foot Burmese python left both the monsters dead.

According to the BBC, Burmese pythons - dumped by their owners - have thrived in Florida's swamps, so much so that they feel confident enough to take on a 'gator. In this case though, the python apparently exploded as it tried to swallow its prey.

Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor, told AP: "Encounters like that are almost never seen in the wild. They were probably evenly matched in size. If the python got a good grip on the alligator before the alligator got a good grip on him, he could win."

This clash of Titans has led experts to speculate that the python could fight its way to the top of the food chain, outsting its native reptile adversary. "Clearly, if they can kill an alligator they can kill other species," Prof Mazzotti concluded. ®