ST. PETERSBURG — John Schuh began his usual morning ritual last Saturday, making coffee and opening the windows, when he discovered he had a visitor in his pool.
Not a raccoon, snake or one of the mallard ducks that frequent his back yard on Big Bayou in the Driftwood neighborhood in the Old Southeast.
This uninvited guest was a 9-foot alligator.
Schuh didn't panic.
"I've got a certain kind of savvy with animals and you have to give them their space," Schuh said.
As Tropical Storm Debby began to pummel the Tampa Bay area, Schuh, 64, decided to let the alligator take refuge in the pool .
He left a note on his neighbor's garage and warned some of the others about his special visitor.
News spread quickly. Few neighbors were surprised.
"We get snakes, raccoons and a little while ago we had a monkey," said neighbor Bernadatte Brooks, 55.
The alligator spent five days in the pool before wildlife officials came to get it. Officials lured it out of the pool Wednesday with a chicken carcass hooked onto a rope.
A handful of neighbors showed up to watch them capture the reptile. The state requires that captured gators longer than 4 feet either be put down or sold.