MEDFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities have seized a six-foot-long alligator from a Suffolk County home.

CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported the Suffolk County SPCA took the female alligator, believed to be 6 to 10 years old, from a residential home in Medford.

SPCA Chief Roy Gross said alligators are illegal to possess in the state.

“Sure enough, in the backyard, there’s a six-foot alligator right in the back in the fenced-in area,” Gross said. “A lot of people don’t realize they can climb.”

Gross said the homeowner is being charged with illegal possession of an alligator. The gator is being sent to a reptile sanctuary in Massachusetts.

Since 2003, SPCA detectives have seized or recovered more than 400 reptiles, including alligators, snakes and snapping turtles.

All were either bought online or brought in from other states where they are legal. They’ve been found abandoned, including a small alligator recently placed in a Tupperware container and left in a public restroom.

“Could you imagine if a child had opened that container, what could have happened?” Gross said.

Gross said his detectives are investigating reports of at least a dozen more alligators suspected of being held in homes in Suffolk County.

Animal activists consider the keeping of alligators in suburban neighborhoods, not only a public safety threat, but animal abuse as well.

“I mean, that’s crazy to have alligators at home, or in an office, or at a restaurant,” animal advocate Jean Shafiroff said. “”They’re very dangerous animals and there’s no place for alligators in Suffolk County.”

Authorities are offering not to press charges to owners who turn in illegally held reptiles.

“Every day is an amnesty day, unless we discover it,” Gross said.

If caught, Gross said owners of illegal reptiles will face up to a year in jail and thousands in fines.

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