By Ashley R. Williams, CNN
(CNN) — Landscapers in southeastern Pennsylvania made a startling discovery on the job after coming across a pet alligator that got loose, authorities said.
The alligator, identified as Fluffy by the owner who later came to retrieve it, was found in a creek in Berks County, an Exeter Township Police Department spokesperson told CNN in an email. American alligators and American crocodiles aren’t typically found in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
The owner said the reptile escaped during the flash floods that hit the area last month, according to an Animal Rescue League of Berks County spokesperson.
The female reptile was taken to the county’s Animal Rescue League, where a reptile expert came to examine it. Rudy Arceo, founder of the Venom Institute, examined the alligator and said his inspection led to some unexpected discoveries.
“The owner (said) he kept it in a 75-gallon aquarium and he had it for 10 years, which completely shocked me because alligators at 10 years old are supposed to be a lot bigger than that,” Arceo told CNN.
The alligator measured at about 2.5-feet long when it was found, according to Arceo. “It should be six feet, if not bigger,” he said.
“I would definitely have to say this is probably ranking at one of the worst that I’ve personally seen, as far as a living animal is concerned,” Arceo said.
He described the reptile’s state as “really deplorable,” adding its snout curled upwards and its teeth appeared to be horizontal rather than vertical.
“(It) was a clear sign of a multitude of things – improper diet, possibly even lack of UVB lighting, and the most important is enclosure size,” Arceo said.
Animal welfare officials will monitor the owner and perform wellness checks to determine whether they can provide the proper care for the malnourished animal, according to the Animal Rescue League.
“I’m a firm believer that people should be able to keep animals as long as it’s done ethically and responsibly, making sure it’s secure, fed right, getting everything it needs and has the right space,” Arceo said.
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