Ria Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico

Young crocodile

A man on a motorbike holds a juvenile American Crocodile

Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico

It was about seven in the morning, and we were walking along the road between Rio Lagartos and San Felipe, having given up on the bus. The motorcycle, with two men on it, passed us in the opposite direction. As it passed, the passenger smiled at us and proudly held up something long and thin and white.

“He had an alligator!” exclaimed M. Abruptly, we heard the motorcycle coming back. It pulled to a halt just a little distance away, both men grinning broadly.

“We thought you might like to take a picture,” said the passenger, holding out the reptile.

We had seen a crocodile from the boat the day before, a burly creature perhaps a metre and a half long, sunning itself on a mangrove branch. As we drew closer, it slipped into the water and disappeared. The animal we were being invited to admire was of a different kind: slender, barely forty centimetres from tip to tail, its mouth lined with tiny white pointed teeth. Its captor held it firmly by the throat and tail, and it remained motionless in his grip, looking back at us, unblinking. I snapped a couple of quick pictures, and then the trio on the motorcycle took off again. We never did find out if it was destined to be breakfast or a very small pair of shoes or if they were simply taking a family pet out for a ride.

My crocodile. Let me show you it.