All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We Caught Him!

Yesterday was one of the best days of my son, Britton's, life! After nearly two years of trying to catch a big monitor lizard in our yard, we finally had success! He's spent countless hours setting elaborate basket traps of his own design, complete with hard boiled eggs as bate. He's waited patiently for endless minutes, attempting to catch a glimpse of the skulking creature making it's way through the flower bed. Several times he's come close--even just last week, touching the tail as it slid into the gutter.

But monitor lizards this big are very fast! And trust me, when they don't want to be caught, (which is apparently always,) they don't make it easy! They can bite, and they make a terrifying hissing sound to boot! In addition, there tail is a perfect whip. And they're not afraid to use it!

Well, yesterday we got home just in time to hear our MAF neighbors yelling "monitor lizard!" loudly from their back yard. The chase was on! Paul was closing in when it ran straight up the vertical rock retaining wall in his back yard, and into the neighbors yard above. Seconds later there was barking from the dog up top, followed by a flying monitor lizard, launching clean off the even higher retaining wall into our yard. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately, seeing as how the alternative would have been a painful splat,) the big brute did NOT land on our cement patio 15 feet below, but rather plopped right into our net-enclosed trampoline! He was trapped! And MAD!!! Very MAD!!!

The adrenaline was pulsing through my veins, and somewhere in the distance I heard voices, many voices, (my wife's, my kids', my neighbors',) saying things like, "Don't do it, Dave!" "He'll bite you daddy!" "Watch his tail!" "Your crazy if you get in there!" But there was one excited voice that I heard above all the others. The anticipation and expectation in Britton's voice drowned out all the common sense and warnings from the other bystanders. "Get him dad! You can do it! I know you can, dad. Don't let him get away. Don't hurt him. Do it dad!"

In the end, his was the only voice I really heard--I had no choice! How could I let my boy down? This was my big chance. You see, several years ago on the south coast of Java I found myself in a similar situation--my son yelling "Get him dad!", and me facing off with a giant monitor lizard. Except that time it truly was a giant--at least as long as me, if not longer. And it only ran a bit before turning around to face me. There comes a point when proving your manhood to your boy has to be weighed against the value of him growing up with, as opposed to without a dad--or a maimed dad. I came up with a bunch of lame excuses about not wanting to hurt it, and look how scared the poor fellow is, etc. etc. But as the big lizard proudly walked away, I could see the disappointment in my son's face, even as he said, "It's o.k. dad. We'll catch a different one."

Not this time! Never again! I don't care if this thing is a salt water crock! It's not getting away from this dad! I'm a man on a mission! Sooooo, throwing caution to the wind, and not allowing even a moment to rationalize my decision, I jumped straight into the trampoline and caught that sucker! And the rest is history. Britton was beaming from ear to ear! He was so, so happy with his monitor lizard, and did numerous Steve Irwin impersonations in front of the video camera. He absolutely loves God's wildlife, and always wants to take good care of it! So a few minutes later he let it go. But trust me. This was one of the best days of his life. And b/c of that, it was also one of the best days of mine! :)

Here I am transferring the critter from my hands to his. I wish you could hear the concerned mommy, pleading from a safe distance not to let her poor boy be devoured by this horrific dragon creature! :) Tanner is looking on.

But look at them! They're both so happy! Truthfully, we couldn't get Britton to hold him tight enough to satisfy our concern. But Britton was to concerned that he'd hurt it, and would rather "convince" it that he was friendly. The lizard never tried to get away.

Is it just me, or are they both smiling?

If you have a faster connection, this is a fun little video, where he can see Britton talking a bit about his monitor lizard. (Thanks Joy for helping me get the video up here.)

Monitor Lizard from Joy Forney on Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

Good job Dave! This will be a moment Britton will never forget! Especially, since Godzilla was caught and none of the involved parties were injured or missing any digits! What's next? How about an anaconda? Just kidding! Great pictures! Lew Cass

Joy @ SAH Missionary said...

Not funny Lew.:) If I find an anaconda in the backyard, I am buying several one way tickets back to the US. :) We did have a spitting cobra in the backyard once though.

Kevin and Krista said...

Way to go Forney! I'm very excited for you and Britton. Wish I could have jumped in there with you. Hopefully I won't have to wrestle a hippo for Silas one day.

Ronda said...

Way to go Dave!! However, I have to tell you that we never shared those "Steve Irwin" moments with our boys. Stan was way more afraid of snakes and things like that than me and I wasn't about to go hunting them!

Anonymous said...

Very awesome! I can't wait for Peter to get home so I can show this to him...way to go "dad"! :-) I think Britton may just have a future in some sort of zoo or wildlife work! :-)

Rakel said... guys are amazing....we did have a wildlife kid in our family also growing up, although we never had lizards that big...don't know how I would have dealt with that had that been the case...but we had plenty of birds, hamsters, cats, afids, bugs, small lizards etc...and yes, this child became a Biology major and later on a Doc

Elaine said...

I have been following your blog for awhile and reallly enjoy it as well as your wife's. Congrats on the catch...I know you and your son were beaming over this one. I loved the video too.

Thanking the Lord I had GIRLS who would never want to catch such a thing. :)

Lisa @ Fern Creek Cottage said...

Yeah, Super Dad!! As soon as my 9 year old son is home from school, I am showing him this. He will LOVE it.

Jennifer said...

Aunt Jenn is sooo proud of her fellow biologist nephew and brother who provides such amazing real-life experiences for the budding naturalist. :) This was GREAT! Made my morning!! Will have to show it to my classes. I'm not sure my city kids would know what to do. :)

Unknown said...

I love that Britton says, "we easily caught it." Way to go dad!

Tripp said...

Man, that is one cool story. Whenever people ask us about the crazy wildlife in Kalimantan and especially about the snakes, we always mention how there's this family that killed a cobra in their yard. Now we can tell them you also caught a big monitor lizard.
I, however, am planning on wrestling a Komodo Dragon to the ground before we leave Indonesia.