Steve Wiktorek and fiancee Sheila Burke noticed a disturbance in the pothole near their home late Sunday night.
"When my fiance got out of the car, he startled it and it moved," Burke said. "He hollered at me and told me it was an alligator."
With a broom, a rake and help from Burke's daughter, Ashley Gooch, the alligator was captured and its mouth bound with black electrical tape, the Joplin, Mo., Globe reported Wednesday, noting that, although the animal was immature it had teeth adequate for serious biting.
"He was cute, he really was," Burke said.
The alligator hunters called the Joplin Health Department, who arrived and turned the animal over to Joplin Humane Society.
Dan Pekarek of the Health Department said it was likely the alligator was a pet let go because it grew too large for the owner to handle, or escaped on its own.
Tianna Fisher, community outreach coordinator of the Humane Society, said Tuesday the alligator was in a shelter area, away from other animals, and will go to an animal sanctuary.