MULLICA — An alligator is on the loose in a South Jersey town and residents are being warned to keep their small pets inside.

The gator was reported on Hamburg Avenue between Route 30 and Duerer Street in the Devonshire section of Mullica Township, according to police, who said the animal was between 3 and 4 feet in length.

Police said they are working with their animal protection and care partners to locate and capture the alligator.

Last week an alligator or caiman was found in Duhernal Lake off Brookside Avenue in Old Bridge.

It is illegal for New Jersey residents to keep alligators or caimans, which are considered potentially dangerous exotic species, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said.

"People frequently purchase them, then release them into rivers and lakes when they get too big for the aquarium they’re living in. They are not likely to survive the cold of winter in these waters," Hajna said.

Police asked anyone who comes in contact with the alligator to call 609-652-2037 and not approach it.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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