Florida Family Calls Authorities When They Discover A Peculiar Animal At Their Front Door

Thanks to Florida’s tropical wildlife — which includes armadillos, pelicans, alligators, sea turtles, and wolf spiders — residents get used to living with the unexpected. But when a Tampa family opened their front door early one morning, they weren’t ready for their unannounced visitor. More than a little frightened, they called in the authorities, who issued a warning everyone needed to hear.

When everything was over, the Tampa family wanted to put some distance between themselves and the bizarre events that made up June 30th, 2020. When newspapers reached out for their story, they asked to remain anonymous.

Tampa Bay Area Outdoor Living

It was early on a Tuesday, and the family was preparing to head outside. But they couldn’t. There was an enormous, two-limbed creature sitting on their front stoop, and he lacked any motivation to move.

Feliz Aggelos / Getty Images

It was an alligator, which you may have guessed, because Florida. But after recovering from the initial shock, the family only had questions: Why was the ‘gator just sprawled out in front of a suburban home in Tampa? And why did it have only two limbs?

Croc Encounters / Facebook

First things first, the bewildered Floridians tried to get this beast to leave their property! Given the size of those jaws, they were understandably still feeling a little frantic. So the family made a quick decision.

Though the family members did everything in their power to move the gator, he refused to budge. They had no choice but to stay inside and call an animal control service — but first they needed to warn their community.

ABC News

The family didn’t want their uninvited guest to put anyone’s safety, specifically delivery drivers’ safety, at risk, so they posted a sign on their garage door saying, “Delivery Stop! Leave Packages here! ALLIGATOR at front door!! (seriously).”

Croc Encounters / Facebook

The family then called Croc Encounters in Hillsborough County’s Croc Encounters, an “educational facility dedicated to rescuing unwanted reptiles,” as stated on its Facebook Page. They needed professionals to take care of this scaly situation.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

The rescue team was ready. “We had an emergency alligator call this morning for this 8 foot 9 in gator,” Croc Encounters — a group run by “nuisance alligator trappers” Karina Sura Paner and John Paner — wrote on Facebook. Ol’ two foot would be a little different, though.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

“The residents said they found the alligator early this morning and despite their efforts to get him to move he refused to leave. He was not too happy to be evicted from his comfortable, shady spot as he smashed everything in sight upon exiting,” Croc Encounters continued.

Croc Encounters

And this moody gator, even with two limbs missing, made sure to let everyone know how feisty he was, using his front left leg and back right leg to waddle around and aggressively knock over welcome signs and outdoor decorations.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

As you could imagine, this seemingly lost gator was causing a commotion among curious neighbors, who made sure to keep their distance.”This guy was drawing a crowd all morning as everyone was stopping by to see him,” Croc Encounters wrote.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

“We were happy to get him removed before someone got hurt,” Croc Encounters’ Facebook post continued. The rescue facility posted photos of the removal mission, which involved guiding the giant reptile with rope.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

But everyone was still so curious as to why the gator was missing two limbs. Croc Encounters employees figured the amputation was a result of a wild gator fight that ended ugly.

George Shelley Productions / Getty Images

Since male alligators are known to be very territorial, it’s possible this guy got into a “turf war” with another male. They made sure to clarify that this physical impairment “did not stop him from getting around.”

Croc Encounters / Facebook

Though it seemed odd that the gator got around to a residential area in the first place, the University of Florida IFAS Extension relayed that population growth and the tourism industry (Disney World is the culprit) have led to more human-alligator run-ins in Florida.

Kirsten Acuna / Insider

Officials had a dire warning for Floridians: if an alligator charges at you, UF explained people should “run away quickly and in a straight path.” And there’s one place people need to be especially watchful for gators.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

Water safety is important when you live in a state that’s famous for its alligator infestation; specifically, always keep your eyes peeled “near fresh or brackish water,” said UF officials. And a certain kind of garbage might attract them as well…

Croc Encounters / Facebook

They encouraged Floridians to toss fish remnants into garbage cans, and have fences standing at a minimum of four-and-a-half feet tall surrounding backyards. “Alligators are good climbers — anything lower would not be adequate protection,” UF officials explained.

Shari Sebuck

Croc Encounters employees were thankfully able to safely capture the alligator who crawled onto the anonymous Tampa family’s stoop. “He will now have a new home at our facility,” they wrote on Facebook.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

“Remember that in Florida, it is illegal to kill or harass alligators,” UF officials voiced. Floridians may not have to worry about gators taking over their neighborhoods anytime soon, but a nearby Florida town has been reeling from an invasion of another creature.

Croc Encounters / Facebook

Coconut Grove is a picturesque neighborhood nestled between mangrove forests and a waterfront state park. The residents welcomed the opportunity to live in harmony with nature — that is, until a swarm of creatures took over.

See, the indigenous Florida foliage is also a favorite of some other inhabitants that have lived in Coconut Grove since it was established back in the 1920s: Peacocks. The famous and very proud birds that call the Grove home are thriving.

Peacocks have become like a mascot to the neighborhood because of how many are found in the residential area. “Its beauty and elegance are so fitting with our lush canopy,” city commissioner Ken Russell explained.

Floridadems.org

For years, humans and peacocks lived in peace. Natives to Coconut Grove extol the beauty of the peacock, elevating the bird to an almost revered status. Karen Hollihan is one of those individuals, having lived in the Grove for 15 years.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

“One of the magical moments in Coconut Grove is to encounter peacocks crossing the narrow streets and crisscross the jungle-like scene of this neighborhood,” she said. It’s waking up in a paradise that’s not easy to find in a world of concrete and street lamps.” Not everyone feels so positively.

@lio_and_remy / Instagram

In recent years, it seems the power dynamic is shifting. Not in the direction of the humans, but strongly in the direction of the domineering peacocks. The emboldened peacocks are causing complications for everyone.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Around 80 peacocks live in the neighborhood, and they’ve started to take over the area in no small way. Complaints of loud squawking at night, a side effect of the birds mating ritual, are distributing the peace. That’s not the worst of it.

The birds have no problem traipsing into the private gardens of homeowners and snacking on any vegetation as needed. Homeowners have been waking up to fully ravaged gardens with nothing but a few peacock feathers to show for it.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

The bossy birds leave behind a lot of peacock poop that has become a chronic issue for many residents, as it is beginning to cover sidewalks and driveways. Finally, the birds have taken up an interest in vandalism of personal property, namely vehicles.

@luckypalm / Instagram

Residents have been finding their cars scratched up by the peacocks! It’s believed that the birds see their reflection in the cars and think it’s another bird challenging them. So, they handle it accordingly. Homeowner Andrews Candela is looking to end this human/bird turf war.

Grove Grapevine / Youtube

“I don’t want to remain forgotten in a filthy, dirty peacock land as hostage to a group of birds,” he said. “I think that is more than unfair.” Candela and other residents have filed petitions with the city to have the birds relocated. Commissioner Ken Russell took notice.

@xigohub / Instagram

It won’t surprise you that this anti-peacock movement created an intense divide among Coconut Gorvers. Many are on board with the idea to relocate the birds, while others are staunchly against the project. Like, Karen Holliham from earlier.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

“They are part of the Grove. It’s become an icon,” she said. “So now some Grovites are bothered because of their poop? Or because some leaves of my flora decor are bitten off?” Unfortunately, commissioner Russell heard the plight of those who felt at war in their own neighborhood.

AL Diaz / Miami Herald

“When it came to property damage that’s when I knew we had to take some kind of action here to regulate,” he said. With his interference, the proposition to remove the peacocks was put to a vote and the decision came back unanimous.

The city has officially began the sanctioned trapping and removal of peacocks in Coconut Grove. Their aim was population control to appease the residents, while also protecting the birds. The population got out of control for a relatively small area.

YourObserver

“Hundreds can be spotted within a few blocks, and they have been hit by cars,” Russell shared. “The overpopulation has also caused the males to become aggressive as they are competitive for females.” That may help explain the car damage.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Is the future of Coconut Grove streets and sidewalks absent of the colorful, unique and somewhat antagonistic peacocks that have called it home for so long? Well, town officials looked to another city for answers.

KSNV

A city in California, Rancho Palos Verdes, experienced a peacock invasion that took a toll on their neighborhood. The city took a similar approach to removing the excess birds and it did the trick, resulting in peace once again between bird and man.

Gregg Segal / Los Angeles Magazine

Commissioner Russell has the same high hopes for Coconut Grove and its inhabitants, bird and human alike. They remain proud of their unique animal population, as they should. They were just happy they weren’t suffering like those in a nearby town.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

You don’t want to mess with the Burmese Python. The biggest of these beasts can reach a length of 23 feet and weigh over 160 pounds. They will eat anything from mice to adult deer. And they’re overrunning a Florida town.

RT

As their name suggests, the reptiles are native to Asia’s tropics, but they were now running wild all over the Everglades. Scientists theorize that following the destruction of Hurricane Andrew, pythons escaped from a zoo and bred like wildfire.

Frank Mazzotti didn’t know quite where the snakes came from, but he was determined to stop them from spreading into densely populated areas, like Miami. The biologist swore to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them. But would that be enough?

NPR

Everglades locals tried all kinds of tricks to root out the serpents. They put snake-sniffing dogs out in the marshes and even set loose radio-equipped “Judas snakes” to hopefully reveal their home base. The pythons only continued to grow.

FL Keys News

Word got around that the reptiles took over an abandoned Nike missile site. While that in and of itself didn’t threaten anyone, Floridians feared that if left unchecked, the pythons would breed at an incredible rate.

The Bohemian Blog

Who knew — it could’ve only been a matter of time until the snakes expanded beyond the missile base and started showing up in places that were more…personal. The stakes were dire, but Frank learned of one group that could help.

Rex Features

Deep in the forests of southern India, the Irula people have mastered snake catching. They see it as an art and take the practice incredibly seriously, even after India has slapped strict regulations on snake trading.

Deccan Chronicle

In recent years, the Irulas have captured poisonous reptiles for the purpose of producing antivenoms. Clearly, there was nobody on Earth more qualified. But how could Floridians convince this tribe to help a community on the other side of the world?

Frank and his herpetologist pals managed to make contact with the Irulas, and to their surprise, the snake-catchers showed interest in helping them. Granted, the Floridians would have to shell out thousands of dollars and agree to some unusual methods.

Miami Herald

Hard as it was to believe, the Irulas didn’t use any state-of-the-art tools for finding and capturing snakes. Instead, their weapon of choice was something found in any garage: a tire iron.

Video Blocks

Contrary to what you might think, they didn’t intend these tire irons for a Simpsons-style Whacking Day. The Irula used them to clear a path through the brush and pick up snakes, but ultimately they tried to capture the reptiles alive when possible.

Simpsons World

So, Frank welcomed the best Irula hunters, Masi Sadaiyan and Vadivel Gopal, to the Everglades. While both men were in their 50s, they were at the top of their game. But the Floridians got nervous when the Irulas said they’d never before hunted snakes so large.

However, Masi and Vadivel smiled when they shared this fact. They were eager for the challenge, the chance to put their skills to the ultimate test. Granted, their brand of animal control was not without its risks.

From the start, the Irula’s tactics puzzled Frank and his friends. They insisted on marching blindly through the thickest part of the swamp. When a snake’s trail ended, Masi and Vadivel made everyone sit down, pray, and smoke a cigarette.

Frank’s hopes began to wane until one of the Irula’s pointed to a shimmer in the mud. Brandishing their trusty tire irons, Masi and Vadivel scooped up a fully-grown python! That was only the beginning.

Mother Nature Network

With a few more captures under their belts, the Irulas fearlessly plunged into an old missile shaft where herpetologists spotted a nest. The sharp-eyed hunters grasped a muscled python tail and spent hours wrestling it out of tree roots.

Miami Herald

In that one afternoon, the hunters pulled out four monstrous pythons from the overgrown missile shaft. They soon brought their total up to 14 over their first two weeks. While the Irulas couldn’t stay in the Everglades forever, they did the next best thing.

Masi and Vadivel shared their wisdom with the local wildlife management team, which never could’ve located these pythons with conventional techniques. The Irula knowledge could stem the invasion, so the Floridians wanted to give them something in return.

Besides paying the Irulas over $4,000 per python, the Floridians wanted to give them the real American experience. In between expeditions, they watched NFL games and ate hot dogs at Arbetter’s, their favorite greasy spoon.

Roadfood Forums

After a month, the Irulas returned to India feeling invigorated by the hunt of their lives. The Floridians knew they were quite fortunate to find experts to turn back the snake invasion, but of course, it wasn’t always possible to have heroes on hand.

Sometimes, everyday people have to use their wits to survive a deadly animal encounter. In the spring of 2017, a mother of four named Bianca Dickinson drove her youngest child, Molly, to the end of the long driveway cutting through her ranch in Victoria, Australia. There, she’d meet a snake.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

But first, to pass the time while waiting for the school bus to drop off her older kids, Bianca had two-year-old Molly pose for a few photographs. For 15 minutes, the duo played and snapped silly pictures — until the fun came to an abrupt halt.

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

With the school bus in view down the road, Molly posed for one last photo beside a wire fence. She wore a huge grin and pointed behind herself, towards the grass blowing in the wind. It was the perfect photo… or was it?

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“I was looking through my camera lens and was looking at my daughter,” Bianca told ABC Australia. “I saw something move in the corner of my eye and actually thought it was bark coming off the tree.” But it wasn’t bark.

Doug Hyland / Purdue

What Bianca first assumed to be tree bark was actually an eastern brown snake, aka the second-most venomous snake in the entire world. And it was slithering right behind her little girl!

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

Venom from the eastern brown snake can paralyze victims and make their blood so thin that it seeps through their pores. Without immediate treatment, a single bite from this critter can send you to an early grave — and it has enough venom to kill 20 adults.

Sky News

So it was no surprise Bianca’s insides twisted into a cold heap when she saw one of these snakes just inches away from her baby girl. “I think [the snake] was touching her boots,” Bianca said. “It was that close.” But what could she do?

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“All my instincts wanted to run and pick her up and scream and run away,” Bianca said. However, that move, she knew, could’ve had deadly repercussions. If she did that, there was a chance the snake would feel threatened — and strike.

The Sydney Morning Herald / YouTube

Complicating the situation, Bianca had to convey to her daughter that there was a big, deadly snake behind her and not to make any sudden movements or take any violent steps backward…

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

So what did the mother do? She just froze. In doing so, she communicated non-verbally to Molly that she should do the same. “Luckily,” Bianca said, “she copied me.” And the snake?

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

Much to Bianca’s relief, the eastern brown snake slithered away, leaving Molly unharmed. As it disappeared into the tall grass, the school bus dropped off her three older children. But Bianca’s panic hadn’t subsided yet…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

“I just started yelling at my other three kids to get in the car,” she said. “I got in the car and I was shaking.” And who could blame her? Her kids immediately noticed she wasn’t quite right.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

While on the drive back up the driveway, her 13-year-old daughter, Imogen (far left), asked, “What happened? Did you see a snake, mum?” Bianca nodded. “Yes,” she told the kids, and “it was at least two meters.” Her kids didn’t buy it.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“Oh mum, it wasn’t that big!” Imogen said. But naturally, mother knew best. Back at home, she pulled out her camera and showed her kids the venomous reptile that’d come within inches of their little sister. And it shook them all.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

After seeing just how close Molly had come to the wrong end of a snake, Bianca’s older three kids didn’t want to go outside anymore. Worse, in showing the kids the photos, Bianca uncovered another nasty shock…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

She’d been taking pictures of Molly for a while before the school bus showed up, and when she reviewed those photos, she learned just how long the snake had been in striking distance. The eastern brown snake posed beside Molly in three photos!

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

In the aftermath, Bianca couldn’t look at those now-infamous photos and didn’t sleep well for weeks. “Every time I shut my eyes I see that big snake and what could have happened,” she said. “I see Molly being taken away in an ambulance.”

But how did the two-year-old react to her brush with death? Well, when Bianca showed her daughter the photo, the toddler considered it for a moment. And then she said the funniest thing…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

“That’s me!” Molly said gleefully, pointing at herself, blissfully unaware of the snake in the photo. Bianca couldn’t help but laugh. At least one of her kids wouldn’t end up scarred by the moment!

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

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