Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A Florida woman who spotted what she initially thought to be a large alligator in her back yard was shocked to find out it was actually a rare crocodile.
Mona Vieregg, 70, said the reptile had been spotted a few times in recent days by neighbors, but it was only when the animal exited the water to sun itself on Vieregg's floating dock that it was identified as an American crocodile.
Vieregg, knowing crocodiles don't normally live in the area, contacted the Punta Gorda Police Department.
Police estimated the crocodile's size at 10 to 15 feet.
The department contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which sent trapper Tracy Hansen to the scene.
Hansen said the crocodile was one of the largest of its species that he had ever seen. He said the animal could be up to 70 years old.
American crocodiles are known to live on the southern tip of Florida, but are rarely seen as far north as Punta Gorda.
Hansen said the crocodile will be left alone for the time being, as the protected species requires trappers to receive federal permission to relocate the animals.