Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
Mary Parks reports on a booming population of exotic pets in the Inland Empire.
The marijuana wasn't really the most immediate danger narcotics officers encountered in a Hemet home.
Authorities said the growers used an alligator to guard the $1.5 million stash.
A Riverside County drug task force team entered the home Monday night. They seized 2,285 pot plants.
Then they found Wally, a four-foot, 55-pound "watchgator." It was in a cement pond in the garage.
The healthy alligator was turned over to the Phelan-based Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary.
A 29-year-old man who lives in the home was arrested and booked for investigation of marijuana cultivation and possession. He was released Tuesday on $100,000 bail.
Reminder: Alligators are illegal in California.
Joel Almquist, a reptile expert, said people buy the alligators online and have them shipped to their homes.
"It's about $50 for a small baby alligator," said Almquist.
Wally has company when it comes to exotic animals in Riverside County. Last month, a Monitor lizard was found roaming a Riverside apartment complex. The owner said someone left the cage open.
During the summer, Riverside County Animal Services said an 11-foot python slithered into someone's back yard.
A serval, native to Africa, was found in a Norco back yard.