Shawnee animal control officers Tuesday snagged a 3-foot American alligator.

Yes, an alligator.


An unknown caller reported seeing the reptile in the parking lot behind Abuelita’s Mexican Restaurant in the 1900 block of North Harrison.


Animal control officers responded to the scene and captured the gator, taping its jaw shut for safety.


Chris Thomas, administrator of the animal control division, said officials believe the gator was someone’s pet and possibly came from a nearby apartment complex, Thomas said.


The alligator was taken to the Shawnee Animal Shelter. Thomas said state law makes it illegal for anyone to keep an alligator as a pet.


Mike France, game warden for Pottawatomie County, said he’s certain this alligator was someone’s pet that either got loose or was let go intentionally because it was getting too big.


“This is not a native alligator,” France said, adding there’s no reason for Shawnee residents to be concerned about the discovery. He’s going to take the reptile to a wildlife management area where it can live in its natural habitat.


Alligators on average   grow about a foot in length for each year of age. France estimates this alligator is between 2 and 3 years old. He said the American alligator is a protected species in Oklahoma.


Shawnee animal control officers Tuesday snagged a 3-foot American alligator.
Yes, an alligator.

An unknown caller reported seeing the reptile in the parking lot behind Abuelita’s Mexican Restaurant in the 1900 block of North Harrison.

Animal control officers responded to the scene and captured the gator, taping its jaw shut for safety.

Chris Thomas, administrator of the animal control division, said officials believe the gator was someone’s pet and possibly came from a nearby apartment complex, Thomas said.

The alligator was taken to the Shawnee Animal Shelter. Thomas said state law makes it illegal for anyone to keep an alligator as a pet.

Mike France, game warden for Pottawatomie County, said he’s certain this alligator was someone’s pet that either got loose or was let go intentionally because it was getting too big.

“This is not a native alligator,” France said, adding there’s no reason for Shawnee residents to be concerned about the discovery. He’s going to take the reptile to a wildlife management area where it can live in its natural habitat.

Alligators on average   grow about a foot in length for each year of age. France estimates this alligator is between 2 and 3 years old. He said the American alligator is a protected species in Oklahoma.

Randy Newton, Shawnee animal control supervisor, said the American alligator isn’t uncommon in Oklahoma or this area. He remembers another gator was found here many years ago near the Shawnee Twin Lakes area.

Newton said the reptiles are more prevalent in far southeastern Oklahoma. France said the American alligator population is in healthy supply in that part of the state.

The American alligator lives in wetlands, such as rivers, swamps, lakes and marshes.

Kim Morava may be reached at 214-3962 or kimberly.morava@news-star.com.