Game wardens discover 7-foot ‘pet’ alligator living in woman’s backyard

Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 9:19 AM CST
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BUDA, Texas (KSAT) - Texas wildlife officials discovered a seven-foot American alligator in a woman’s backyard that she had been keeping as a pet.

Texas Parks and Wildlife discovered the reptile while investigating another case in Buda, Texas, just south of Austin.

“It was very friendly with her,” game warden Joann Garza said.

They learned the woman was keeping it as a pet but did not have the proper permits to keep the alligator.

She told game wardens she had been caring for it for more than two decades.

“She did take it a little bit tough,” Garza said. “But she does still have to follow all of the rules and regulations in the state.”

Texas law allows people to keep alligators if they are farming, educating or using it for zoological reasons.

She told investigators she was volunteering at the Animal World & Snake Farm zoo in New Braunfels, Texas, and stole an alligator egg.

“Alligators will have a nest of 50, 60 eggs at a time. So, it would have been very easy for someone to take an egg or a hatchling home, just kind of without anyone noticing,” Jarrod Forthman with Animal World & Snake Farm.

Game wardens say the alligator is healthy and well taken care of, but it had outgrown the space the woman provided.

The gator was recovered and returned to Animal World & Snake Farm.

“You know, my heart goes out to her and we’re going to give it a good home,” Forthman said.

The woman will face up to $1,000 in fines and fees for illegally having an alligator.

Charges for stealing the egg are past the statute of limitations, but she can always visit the alligator here at Animal World & Snake Farm.