A 1-foot American alligator that Suffolk police discovered being kept in single-family home in Hauppauge will live out its life at a Massachusetts sanctuary, the county SPCA said on Wednesday.
Detectives found the approximately 1-year-old reptile while probing "an unrelated matter," the SPCA statement said.
The SPCA and the state Department of Environment Conservation were brought in by the police after the reptile was found in a basement tank, Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said by telephone.
Alligators, Gross said, are not only illegal, they are dangerous. "They are not going to sit in your lap," he said. Permits are required for possessing them in New York State, he said.
Gross did not identify the owner, who was charged by the DEC with illegally possessing an alligator, which is a violation. Had the alligator been neglected or abused in any way, or had it not been safely contained, the SPCA could have filed misdemeanor charges, Gross said.
"My warning to people is that it is absolutely illegal to possess an illegal reptile or mammal," he said.
Alligators can grow a foot a year, and rapidly transform from cute to unpredictable and dangerous, he said. "No only can they hurt you or kill you, you can get salmonella poisoning from dirty water," Gross said.