5-foot alligator surrendered to Suffolk County SPCA

A 9-year-old, 5-foot-long American alligator named Zachary, who was being fed goldfish and hotdogs became the latest exotic pet to be turned over to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County SPCA, authorities said on Thursday. 

"Our message is don’t own these," said Capt. Tom Gadomski with the New York State DEC. "There are plenty of cats, dogs, fish and other pets to take care of, obviously much safer."

Officials received an anonymous tip about the toothy gator that was purchased from out of state. Its owner, who lives in the town of Islip but hasn’t been identified, used a harness to help handle him. 

"People buy a small alligator and think it’s cute and then they grow about a foot a year and say what am I going to do with it," said Chief Roy Gross with the Suffolk County SPCA. 

Suffolk County offers owners of exotic animals the opportunity to surrender them without penalty or charges for illegal possession. Failing to do so can result in misdemeanor charges of up to a year in jail and up to $1000 in fines. 

RELATED: Lynx that was roaming Long Island captured

There’s still an ongoing investigation to find and charge the owner of the Eurasian lynx caught last week in Central Islip - one of many potentially deadly animals recovered in Suffolk County over the years. 

"We’ve had caimans, crocodiles, cougars, a black bear, leopards, venomous snakes," Gross said. 

If you have an illegal animal you can call the DEC at 631-444-0250 to surrender it voluntarily … And if you’re thinking about buying one - officials say don’t do it.