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By Scott Sullivan


Leapin’ Lizards

Be afraid. Be very afraid of fear mongers like me who pander to panic lovers to peddle papers. With all reporting on threats we cannot die soon enough.

After 40 years I’m still trying to work through A’s in the alphabet. Last week it was alligators and asteroids.

Since the former are born in the U.S.A., Michigan does not consider them “exotic” pets (unlike, say, French poodles?). Lately, more pet gators are escaping enclosures in the Wolverine State than prowl all of Florida.

David Critchlow, who houses close to 150 in his Calhoun County alligator sanctuary, estimates there are 2,000 to 3,000 such reptiles privately owned here. With the state not regulating them, there is no definitive way to track their numbers.

Critchlow speaks from experience when he says it’s a bad idea. “They (owners) regret it,” he says. “If it gets too big, they’re moving, or their spouse has said get rid of the gator before it eats the children …

“It’s a special-needs animal,” he continues. “It’s going to get big, it’s going to hurt you. It’s too big for an aquarium you’re going to provide. It’s just not practical.”

When has that stopped people? The rash of recent escapes in Michigan has “everyone talking about it,” as Mark Twain said about the weather, “but no one is doing anything about it.”

Where are Saugatuck’s Save Our Children From Deadly Sculptures Vigilantes when flesh-eating reptiles that grow up to 13 feet long and weigh more than 1,500 pounds lurk licking their jaws at prospects of gulping down little Mikey like a McNugget?

Not all kids can flee armored carnivores that run as fast as 11 mph. Climb a tree to escape? Gators, says Google, can jump as high as six feet. Move over, Michael Jordan. How about a winner-eats-all-the-judges Gator Slam-Dunk Contest?

Then there are asteroids: gazillions of space rocks that orbit the sun waiting for their chance to burn through Earth’s atmosphere and turn Crete into a crater. Meteor showers? Bring an umbrella. The loss of lives could be astronomical.

Last month a 110-yard- wide asteroid whizzed unexpectedly to within 45,360 miles — about one-fifth of the distance to the moon — of Australia. Astronomers call space rocks that size “city killers” — not large enough to cause, say, extinction of all the dinosaurs, but big enough to level Lansing. My kind of term limits.

Why not blast city killers out of the sky with nukes? That might appease President Trump’s Dr. Strangelove advisors for the time being, but astronomer Alan Duffy cautions doing so might or might not work but would definitely make the asteroid radioactive. Killjoy.

Say you’re walking your gator down Butler Street —bumbershoot up to thwart space rocks and “Shame! Shame! Shame!” cries from Sculpture Vigilantes — when an asteroid whizzes by. “Redact! Redact! Redact!” you’d cry to the heavens, but they’re not listening.

The good news is if the asteroid’s flying low enough, your gator can leap and snatch it. The bad: police dogs.

“Is that a German shepherd?” you’d ask the dog cop. “Illegal alien! Build the wall! Take away his puppies!”

“He’s from Germany,” the officer would reply. “We like Germans. Sieg heil! Not from Mexico or one of those s***hole countries.”

Don’t mess with police dogs; I’ve seen them jump over cars and bite bad guys. On the other hand, gators have jaws not to toy with either. Being dumb animals, unlike humans, at a standoff, the two would make peace and have a jumping contest.

Before I could make a citizen’s arrest on the cop and he Tasered me back, we would both hear a street musician.

“Call the SWAT team!” I’d say. “There’s a threat we can all agree on.” The officer would instead pull out an accordion.

“Feelings,” he and the S.M. would warble. “Nothing more than feelings …”

“No! No!” I’d cry while his dog howled and my gator spat out the asteroid. “One more day in Saugatuck,” I would say.