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POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. – A couple were at a loss after what they thought was a giant lizard turned out to be an alligator just outside their home.

Rick and Deborah Ames live outside Shawnee near Twin Lakes. On Thursday, Rick was driving nearby when he happened upon something unusual.

“He thought, oh that`s an awfully big lizard,” Deborah said, “and it ended up being that little alligator.”

A three-foot long alligator sitting on the side of the road. Rick didn’t know what to do with it but he was afraid to leave it alone out on the road. So he captured it, wrapped up its snout, and brought it home.

“I thought he was so cute,” Deborah said. “He is really cute.”

Even though it’s not very big, Deborah said it’s pretty strong and lunges quickly.

“I don`t know how rick even got it,” she said. “I know he said it was really hard to get it.”

The two stuck it in a dog crate an started making calls to the sheriff’s office, police, animal rescues, anyone they could think of.

“Some kind of idea where we can give him a home,” Deborah said. “We don`t know what to do with it.”

It wasn’t until a deputy showed up with a game warden close behind that the couple got some answers.

“If it is going to be an endangered species they have to come recover it,” if it`s just a regular breed of cayman they animal will be released to anybody who wants to take ownership of it,” said Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Bruce.

In fact, game wardens classified it as an American Alligator. Deputies said it could have swum up from farther south, but for now, how it ended up here is a mystery.

“It`s really sad,” Deborah said. “It just goes back to what the news media says all the time that people get these exotic pets, and they get to a certain size, and then they just let them go. “I`m sure that`s probably what happened.”

Game wardens said it’s illegal to possess American alligators so they picked this one up.