A nearly 6-foot-long American alligator will retire to a Massachusetts sanctuary after his owner decided the reptile -- Rocky -- was too big to care for as a pet, the Suffolk County SPCA said Wednesday.

The alligator had been given to the owner, whose identity was not released by officials, 17 years ago by the SPCA. The owner was legally licensed to have the alligator, SPCA Chief Roy Gross said. The owner said he'd used Rocky "for educational purposes" to teach kids how to respect and be responsible for animals.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

But, the owner said in a statement: "I just felt it was time for him to go. American alligators do not make good pets."

The SPCA is sending the gator to a licensed herpetologist from the Rainforest Reptile Sanctuary in Massachusetts.