MIDLAND, Texas — It looks like a gator, it walks like a gator, but this was in fact not an alligator.
An escaped caiman caused a stir on social media earlier in the week when someone found what they thought to be an alligator under their vehicle.
That's when the Midland County Sheriff's Office was called. The MCSO, however, deferred to Derek Bean, the game warden for Midland County.
"I received a call from Midland County Sheriff‘s Office saying there was apparently an alligator that was found underneath a trailer west of Midland off of Highway 80. So they were calling me to ask if I had any kind of the tools or anything that I can help catch it," Bean said.
Bean was out of town at the time and couldn't get the caiman himself. That's when A to Z Veterinary Clinic came in and helped wrangle it in.
Once it was brought in, only then was it identified not as an alligator, but rather, a caiman.
"An American alligator is native to the state of Texas, and they’re illegal to possess just on the fact of it being a game animal. A caiman is something that’s not native to the state of Texas so it’s considered an exotic animal, and there is nothing that our department regulates on exotic animals," Bean said
This means that people are allowed to own caimans. As soon as the MCSO posted about it on their social media, the owner came forward almost immediately.
"Believe it or not, as soon as Midland County posted the pictures of it, not even 10 minutes, and the original owner whenever it came up missing, he was already contacting them trying to get it back," Bean said.
Until then, it had been in the care of A to Z Veterinary Clinic.
"It’s in very good condition. I mean it had plenty of weight on it etc. It was a little dry because it was a little hot that day, but Dr. Todia and Tommy were able to get it back in its natural habitat of being in water," Bean said.
Bean also mentioned that the owner was going to pick up the caiman on Friday, so it should already be back home safe and sound.