Gator Used to Guard Pot Growing Operation

Wally the Guard Gator isn't the only exotic animal encountered by Riverside County authorities

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    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.

    Giant Gator, Exotic Pets Found in Inland Empire

    [LA] Giant Gator, Exotic Pets Found in Inland Empire
    Mary Parks reports on a booming population of exotic pets in the Inland Empire. (Published Wednesday, March 9, 2011)

    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.