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Alligator, snakes turned in at Selden amnesty event

Michael Ralbovsky, a herpetologist with Rainforest Reptiles, holds

Michael Ralbovsky, a herpetologist with Rainforest Reptiles, holds a 37-inch alligator that was surrendered during an SPCA reptile amnesty day in Selden. (Sept. 7, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Ed Betz

Another alligator was discovered on Long Island on Saturday, described as 37 inches long and "very aggressive."

This time, though, animal advocates were relieved. They didn't have to capture the creature.

At a Petco in Selden, owners promised amnesty surrendered eight pet reptiles, including two illegal ones: the alligator and an equally aggressive snapping turtle.

The Suffolk SPCA held the no-questions-asked event in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The collection effort yielded mostly legal pets: three red-eared slider turtles; a common boa constrictor; a Brazilian rainbow boa; and a 6-foot Dumeril's boa, officials said. The eight pets were sent to a reptile sanctuary in Massachusetts.

"Maybe some of the people didn't want the ones that were legal," SPCA chief Roy Gross said. "We're happy they weren't abandoned or dumped out in the pond."

The alligator, which Gross said suffers from bone disease, was the 19th recovered on Long Island since last October -- some of them in public places. One gator was found in a restaurant parking lot in Shirley, another in a golf course pond in Wading River.

Abandoning an alligator is a misdemeanor offense punishable by hefty fines and possible jail time, Gross said.

While yesterday's event was aimed strictly at reptiles, officials received a surprise call from the owner of a monkey.

Gross said preparations were made to receive the animal, but the owner never followed through.

Still, Gross said he was inspired. "Amnesty for illegal mammals," he said. "That may be next."

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