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Yes, having a pet alligator is legal in Pa. Here’s why Centre Wildlife says it’s not the best idea

Crews work to capture a baby alligator near Tipton, Pa.

A baby alligator was captured Monday near Tipton, Blair County. It was captured shortly after 7 p.m. in a creek near River Road, according to WTAJ, the Centre Daily Times' news partner. It was been relocated to Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda.
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A baby alligator was captured Monday near Tipton, Blair County. It was captured shortly after 7 p.m. in a creek near River Road, according to WTAJ, the Centre Daily Times' news partner. It was been relocated to Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda.

Adding to the recent string of alligator sightings throughout Pennsylvania, Blair County law enforcement captured a 3-foot-long baby alligator in a creek near Tipton Township Monday night. The reptile was transported to Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda, where it will stay until it can be transferred elsewhere.

Centre Wildlife founder and Executive Director Robyn Graboski said law enforcement called late Monday night and asked if they could bring the gator to the wildlife rehab center.

“We will work with law enforcement to find an appropriate placement for it,” Graboski said. “We don’t know yet whether or not there will be charges filed.”

This is not the first alligator to stay with Centre Wildlife.

While it is legal to keep an alligator as a pet in Pennsylvania, it is against the law to release it into the wild, Graboski said. The last time Centre Wildlife housed an alligator, it was 5 feet long and was held as evidence after its owner let it go.

Graboski said the alligator cannot remain at Centre Wildlife because its facility is not equipped with the housing needed in order to sustain a proper habitat during the winter. She added that just because it is legal to keep an alligator as a pet in Pennsylvania does not mean everyone should.

Reflecting on the series of sightings — including three in the Pittsburgh area in a month — Graboski said alligators are not just showing up on their own.

“They’d never survive our winters,” she said.

Instead, people are buying them as pets and releasing them when they become too big to care for.

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A baby alligator was captured by Blair County officials in Tipton Township. The reptile is being held at Centre Wildlife Care until it can be transferred elsewhere. Photo provided

A few years ago, Centre Wildlife took in a baby alligator, a python and two corn snakes after they were found living in a teenage boy’s closet. The boy had ordered the animals online, and they were later discovered by his parents.

“People get them as pets, and you can buy everything on the internet,” she said.

Alligators can grow up to 8 feet long, Graboski said. In order to safely house an exotic animal, she said the owner must have appropriate-sized housing.

“I don’t think that anybody should have a giant reptile as a pet. … You need a compound to house an animal,” Graboski said. “You can’t keep them in the bathtub.”

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