They captured the alligator and taped its mouth shut for safety, the sheriff said, then began calling around to find out what to do with it.

A 3-foot-long American alligator was found and captured in Pottawatomie County Thursday near Shawnee Twin Lakes.

Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said his office received a call from a residence near Shawnee Twin Lakes after a couple saw the gator in the road along Post Oak Road.

They captured the alligator and taped its mouth shut for safety, the sheriff said, then began calling around to find out what to do with it.

Booth said Deputy Brian Bruce responded to the call, and then contacted Pottawatomie County Game Warden Mike France.

It's unclear where exactly the gator came from and how it got to be in the Shawnee area, but there are some theories.

Booth said some say native alligators can make their up creeks and rivers, although it also could have been someone's pet at one time.

France said the Department of Wildlife now has possession of the gator and will determine where it will go.

France, who said it is an unusual find for this area, said Shawnee is really too far away from the range for native alligator, so he suspects he could have been brought here, possibly as someone's pet.

Since the gator was one-half mile or more from the Twin Lakes, France believes the gator may have been trying to get to water.

Alligators have been found in Oklahoma in the past.

It wouldn't be too unusual to find a gator in some areas of southern Oklahoma, he said, especially in the Texhoma area.

American alligators can have a life span of 30 to 50 years and can weigh as much as 500 pounds.