A pet alligator pulled from a Long Island liquor store by Suffolk County SPCA, even surprised its owner, who thought the reptile was just a large lizard.

The 3-foot gator had been living in a storage room for about two months at Alpine Wine & Liquor in Wading River - where workers fed the beast about 45 goldfish a day, officials and the owner said.

"We didn't know it was an alligator," said owner Nancy Corcione. "I didn't think it was illegal. We had no clue."

An employee brought in the creature, which can reach up to 1,000 pounds, shortly after it was born, saying he needed a temporary home for it until he found a new apartment, Corcione said.

The 1m (3ft) animal has been sent to a sanctuary, while two employees of the store have been issued tickets for illegally possessing an animal.


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