A 3-foot-long caiman that was surrendered to officials last week was "so nasty and dangerous, it could hardly be handled," an SPCA official said Monday.

The Shirley resident who owned the reptile -- a smooth-fronted caiman, which, like alligators, is from the Crocodylia family -- called the SPCA to ask if he would be prosecuted for illegal possession, said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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As the creature seemed to be healthy and it was being turned in voluntarily, Gross said he conferred with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and they decided not to press charges. The resident surrendered the caiman Thursday night.

Possessing a caiman, crocodile or alligator is illegal in New York State, Gross said.

Two alligators were turned in voluntarily in 2014, he said.

"These wild creatures are not pets and should not be kept confined in the home," said Gross in a news release.

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The caiman is now making its home in an out-of-state licensed reptile sanctuary, officials said.