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Date of Issue: April 30, 2008

Sandscript

There’s the gator, monkeys and, of course, bees

Critters are acting crazy, both near and far in Florida. Here’s some of the antics of those wacky animals, or reptiles, or insects, or sharks, or whatever.

 

Cat attack stymied

A wandering kitty in Hillsborough County got a rude awakening last week when an 8-foot-plus alligator chased it into his owner’s condominium and ended up in the kitchen.

According to St. Petersburg Times reporter Eileen Schulte, Poe the cat was chased into the kitchen and found some form of safe haven. Cat and property owner Sandra Frosti heard some thumping, peeked in her kitchen and saw the gator. She called 911.

You’ve gotta love this little give-and-take during the call for help:

“What’s going on?” the operator asked.

“There’s an alligator in my kitchen.”

“How long do you think the alligator is, ma’am.”

“It’s huge! I only saw the first half of it, and that had to be at least 3 feet, because it was behind the freezer, and I just disappeared.”

“Are you sure it couldn’t be like, a, uh, iguana or really large …”

“Oh, no, no, no, no!”

“All right, we’ll get deputies out that way.”

Deputies indeed confirmed that there was a 220-pound gator in Frosti’s kitchen, called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, and the gator was removed.

Again from the St. Petersburg Times comes this quote from FWC’s trapper Charles Carpenter:

“The interesting part was trying to get him out without destroying the condo.”

Ooh, good move.

And then there was the quote from FWC spokesman Gary Morse, responding to the whole concept of gator lust. It is spring, after all, and alligator’s little reptilian brains at this time of year apparently turn to having some little reptilian fun.

“I don’t think a gator wants to mate with a cat,” Morse said. “Let’s be clear on that.”

Right. Got it.

The gator was killed, chopped into steaks, and its hide sent to Europe to be made into shoes, belts and other stuff.

Damage to the kitchen, by the way, was minimal.

 

Oops

Monkeys can swim.

That startling (?) fact came to light in Polk County last week to the chief executive of the Lowry Park Zoo. It seems that Lex Salisbury ended up with 15 Patas monkeys rescued from Puerto Rico and decided to park them on a little island at his home, which is also known as Safari Wild.

He figured the moat around the island would serve as a barrier to keep the primates at bay. Not.

They swam off and ran away in two days, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Polk County officials sent out a reverse 911 call to alert residents of the monkey invasion while Salisbury attempted to lure the little guys to food so he could recapture them.

Apparently the nasty news folks in their helicopters added to the confusion, further scattering the furry fellows.

And then the FWC got called into the act, fresh from the gator issue.

Gary Morse told the Times, with a sigh - he must be getting tired of all of this sort of stuff - “The monkey business.”

 

Bee-licious in Cape Coral

Cape Coral, in Lee County to our south, has been plagued with a massive overbuilding problem which, due to the economy, has resulted in a massive number of vacant houses.

The city is now plagued with another problem in a bee infestation of the vacant homes.

Seems that bees will nest anywhere they can find a hole and create a hive. Empty house? Cool!

According to The New York Times, a beekeeper has been called to more than 100 homes in the past year that have been foreclosed upon, are vacant, and have bee infestations.

Memo to Islanders: pay your mortgage.

 

Shark relief

You gotta hand it to Gov. Charlie Crist for innovation. He has requested federal aid to help sharks off Florida’s coast.

Call it the Shark Hurricane Katrina Relief Act.

The feds are still gumming the matter, Mote Marine Laboratory shark guru Dr. Robert Hueter said last week.

It’s a commercial fishery isue that is intended, if approved, to help shark fishing folks.

 

And now … trees!

We love mangroves. At least, we should.

The waterfront red, black and buttonwood trees have more to do with improving our coastal environment than almost anything else growing out there.

They provide food via dead leaves and bark to fish and crabs. Mangroves offer shelter to little fish in their root systems, and nests for birds.

And they’re pretty to look at for us primates.

Mangroves are also a problem for the folks who move to Florida from states to states from our north that often begin with a vowel. Those pesky plants block waterfront views, don’t you know.

But the trees also offer some other aid. Hurricane aid. Tsunami aid.

A group of Indonesian scientists did a tour of Charlotte Harbor recently to inspect a mangrove planting project. The Charlotte effort, which was something like 10,000 plants, was to beef up the shore post-Hurricane Charley.

The Indonesian contingent was interested due to the tsunami a few years ago that hit that part of the world.

As the Sarasota Herald-Tribune put it regarding how our friends to the far, far west put it, “Scientists found that coastal communities with healthy mangroves suffered significantly less damage and loss of life.”

And here’s a good quote from the SH-T editorial regarding mangroves:

“That thick tangle of trees can be a lifesaving wall of protection when storm-driven wind and waves come roaring ashore.”

 

Sandscript factoid

Bees are our friends. They help our plants, they offer sweet stuff for our table and they’re generally gentle unless you smash their hives with a stick. Then there is a bit of an “ouch” factor.

An average hive contains from 15,000 to 60,000 bees and only one queen - perhaps the definition of being a busy bee?

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