Published On: Mon, Dec 10th, 2012

Puerto Rico overrun by Caimans as heavy rains flood the island

Heavy rains have turned the Puerto Rican coast into a haven for caimans.

Spectacled Caiman, St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, Missouri, 2005. Robert Lawton

The caimans, relatives of alligators, have exploded in and around a lagoon near Los Naranjos, have people gathering their lassos and sharpening their knives.

The scaly reptiles have been spotted prowling around schools and crawling into flooded yards after rains, causing both widespread panic and curiosity in the community.

People taught themselves the trick to hunting caimans, sometimes learning from others how to rope them in and tape their mouths shut. They’ve also mastered the art of flashing lights into the brackish waters of the nearby lagoon until they spot pairs of squinty green eyes gleaming just above the surface.

Ask anyone in this coastal neighborhood if they know someone who traps and kills caimans, and the reply is likely a peal of laughter. The question is akin to asking who hunts for crabs, neighbors say.

Everyone does it.

The creatures are native to Central and South America, but were introduced to Puerto Rico by stores such as Woolworth’s that sold baby caimans the size of lizards as pets during the 1960s and 70s, Atienza said. When the caimans began to grow, people released them into the wild, where females rapidly reproduced, laying up to 40 eggs at a time. The island’s government authorizes hunting caimans since they’re considered non-native species.

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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