A man has been arrested after police discovered him driving with a live alligator in his car.
Police pulled over Tyler Watson, 29, after responding to reports of a man driving while under the influence near Anderson, North California.
Upon discovering Watson was wanted for violating a probation order, police arrested him at the scene, only for the situation to take a bizarre turn when the man revealed, as he was being led away, he had left an alligator in his car.
'Officers looked into the vehicle and found there was in fact a live alligator,' confirmed the Anderson Police Department in a Facebook post, sharing an image of the baby reptile, which appeared to have its snout bound with black tape, sitting in the footwell of the passenger seat surrounded by plastic bottles and food wrappers.
'Animal Control Officers and a Game Warden from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to the scene to assist and took possession of the alligator,' police confirmed.
Following the discovery police said Watson would face additional charges of unlawful possession of an alligator. After being taken into custody at the Shasta County Jail he reportedly told police that he had been looking after the animal for about a week after the original owner of the baby 'gator was himself arrested.
Under California law it is illegal to keep an alligator as a pet without a proper license, while a 2019 law also banned their sale and importation in the state over concerns about illicit trading of exotic pets and their body parts.
While animal rights campaigners have called for better protections for the animals, some conservationists and medical experts have pointed to the use of alligator products in potentially life-saving medicines, Newsweek reports.
Alligators are not native to California, however there are an estimated five million of the animals elsewhere in the United States, including 1.5 million in the state of Florida alone.
American Alligators have been listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act since 1966, after decades of hunting and legal trading of meat, skin and other parts saw populations of the species dramatically reduced.
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