Sarasota News Leader

10/12/12

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knowledgeable and experienced reptile han- dler. Many responsible exotic reptile pet owners eventually are forced to release their beloved tegu, iguana or Burmese python into what they perceive to be "the wild" because they can no longer maintain it, physically or finan- cially. In the case of the Tokay gecko, owners are actually deliberately releasing it in their homes, garages, even offices, as an eco-friend- ly cockroach exterminator. No poison sprays, no toxins; just a "green" gecko that eats cock- roaches — but one which also devours our native anoles, frogs, snakes and small nesting birds. There go our Palm warblers and corn snakes. Eco-friendly? My tail feathers! I'll now return to the fun part of owning and bonding with your To- kay gecko and elab- orate on the FWC's report of the Tokay's tenacious defense strategy when threat- ened. Imagine that your eco-friendly cock- roach exterminator is running loose in your home. Friends stop by and you want to show off your prized To- kay gecko. You chase it around the house and finally corner it. When you reach out to pick it up, it lunges at your finger and bites it with a rat-trap-like death hold that can last over an hour. Yes, it can clamp down on your finger for an hour or more. Ouch! Fortunately, you have company to open that bottle of Tokay and load Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies into your Bose system while you wildly jump up and down yelling, "Get it off of me!" — behaving as though you were not quite in control of the situation. My advice on removing a tenacious Tokay gecko from your finger: At home, go to the nearest sink, fill it with water and submerge your gecko-enhanced digit in the water until the gecko releases it. You can also use the toi- let bowl but remember NOT to flush or you will lose your pet. In the wild (i.e., east of I-75), if you foolishly poke your finger into its lair and are bitten, do NOT go anywhere near a body of wa- ter and submerge the gecko! If you do, an alligator might snap it up and you would be found in violation of Florida State Statute 372.667 (feeding or pretending to feed an alligator) and subject to a $500 fine or jail time. Just sit back, re- lax for an hour or so, and enjoy communing with nature. Thank you for your question. To you and all Hoosiers, I say, "Go Big Red"! Otus A sign cites a state statute in warning against feeding alligators. File photo

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