Missouri man finds alligator in backyard; turns out to be neighbor’s lost pet


WILDWOOD, Mo. (KSNT) — Chris Suljak was mowing his backyard and cutting down tree limbs when he saw something you don’t find in Missouri very often.

“Usually, when I come down here, I hear about 15 to 20 bullfrogs jump in the water. First off, it was dead silent,” Suljak said. “I hear something on the shore, and I started to hear a noise. I went around and all I heard was a splash, a tail go in the water and I saw a pretty good size tail.”

What he saw was an alligator. Suljak said his stepdaughter heard him scream an expletive and asked if he was okay.

“I said, ‘No, I just saw an alligator,’ and she started laughing,” he said. “So needless to say, everyone started running down here.”

Suljak said his son-in-law and stepdaughter had just arrived from out of state, and his stepson jumped out of the car to help get the alligator out of the creek behind his house. 

Suljak said Bi-State Wildlife Hotline sent a rescuer who took the gator away in a cage.

He said he later found out the alligator belongs to a neighbor a few miles away, and it had been missing for two weeks. 

“He told me it happened to climb the fence. He said it had never done that,” Suljak said. “I think the thing’s name is Fluffy.”

He believes the alligator was returned to the owner.

American alligators typically live in areas from North Carolina to Texas’ Rio Grande and are usually found in freshwater rivers, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. They are not native to Missouri.

According to a Missouri State statute, having a pet alligator is legal and it would only have to be registered with the health department if it is more than 8 feet long.

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