Some people wouldn’t get anywhere near an adult crocodile for all the money in the world, but one Japanese family in Kure City, Hiroshima, has been living with one for almost four decades.
Nobumitsu Murabayashi bought “Caiman-san”, his pet crocodile, from a pet store, after his young son begged him to. He never thought he’d become part of the family, and still be with them nearly 40 years later. Today, the domesticated crocodile measures just under 7 feet long (6feet 8inches) weighs around 45 kilograms, but he’s a gentle giant, as Nobumitsu says he would never hurt anyone. Caiman-san lives in the family home, but also goes on walks with his master and is tame enough to let young children touch and even ride him.
Photo: Cater Clips screengrab
“I never thought he would grow this big. It has been 34 years since I got him. I try to communicate with him through actions such as brushing his teeth, etc,” Nobumitsu Murabayashi told Caters News, back in 2016. “Every day my wife is more fed up with me. So I spend my days with Caiman instead.”
At home, the spectacled caiman spends most of his time roaming freely through the house, and chilling in his own bathtub. He loves going on walks with his owner, especially if it involves short swims through the local water fountains. Nobumitsu had to get a permit from the authorities to take Caiman-san out in public, and signed documentation which makes him liable should anything wrong happen.
The gator sat motionless most of the time. He didn’t seem to like it when Nobumitsu tried to move him into a different position.
69-year-old Nobumitsu Murabayashi says that Caiman-san once bit his son, when he was a child, but he hasn’t done so since. Most people would have probably given up on their pet if they ever snapped at their child, but Murabayashi decided to give him another chance, and today he trusts the crocodile so much that he lets children around him.
Nobumitsu works as a realtor, and his unique pet has really given him a leg up over the competition. Thanks to Caiman-san, he has become a local celebrity in Kure City, made appearances on local TV channels and even has a gator on his business card.
I felt more comfortable when “Mr. Gator” sat next to his pet. I was always thinking “this thing could kill me with one bite”.
Indianapolis journalist Scott Swan visited Nobumitsu Murabayashi and Caiman-san last year and was surprised by how tame the animal was around him and his crew.
“During our visit, the gator sat patiently as we conducted interviews and filmed him from every conceivable angle,” the journalist wrote on Facebook. “There was no band around his snout. I suppose it could have snapped at me or my photographer. It didn’t.”
Having a crocodile for a pet is certainly unusual, but not unheard of. Kanathip Nathip, from Thailand, has been sharing his home with a croc for over 20 years, as has this family in Indonesia, only their pet alligator is much larger.