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Alligator spotted swimming in Massachusetts river

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts man snapped a photo when he spotted something highly unusual swimming in the Connecticut River: an alligator.

Joseph Matteson of West Springfield said he was walking next to the Connecticut River when he spotted the reptile.

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"I noticed something different in the water, and I looked down and it was an alligator," Matteson told WGGB/WSHM.

Matteson said he has since spotted the alligator on multiple occasions, and even brought some friends to look at the reptile.

"Called up a few of my friends, and they didn't believe me so, a few came over and took a look. It was about 4 feet," Matteson said.

The alligator is believed to be an illegal pet that was abandoned by its owner when it grew to be too large.

"They're not a good spontaneous pet because they're cute when they're little, but as they grow they do get big," said Kevin McCurley, a reptile breeder and educator from New England Reptile Distributors.

McCurley said the gator would not be able to survive in the Connecticut River once temperatures drop.

"The alligator will be fine this time of year, but as we approach fall things will start to get rough," he said.

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Massachusetts does not allow private ownership of alligators, except for educational and scientific research purposes.

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