Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow as saying the department was alerted to the alligator around 2:30 a.m. Friday. Bristow says the department was told two people had dropped off a three-foot (1-meter) alligator at the Lakewood Ranch convenience store.
"It wasn't that big, but inside of a store, anything like that is too big," said customer Fred Stange.
Deputies alerted the Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sent a trapper who removed the gator.
Justin Matthews is a Manatee County wildlife expert. He said the case is rare, but alligators are on the move during June.
"This is mating season for them, the best thing to do is just leave them alone," said Matthews.