Ohio investigators made a scaly new friend this week when they learned an American alligator was being held in the basement of a Groveport, Ohio, home.

Madison Township Police said the Ohio Department of Agriculture were tipped off to the reptile’s existence and found that the home’s residents did not have a valid Ohio exotic animal license.

The alligator’s owners voluntarily surrendered the animal when state wildlife officials came to seize the reptile.

“Our 25-year-old scaly friend is retiring to an animal sanctuary in sunny Myrtle Beach, SC,” police said in a statement, noting that there are “some things they just don’t teach you in the Police Academy.”

Ohio officials cracked down on rare pet ownership when the proprietor of a 73-acre exotic-animal farm near rural Zanesville, Ohio, opened the cages and released his collection of bears, lions, tigers, monkeys and other beasts in 2011.

Authorities killed 49 rare animals in the aftermath, including 18 Bengal tigers, leading to animal rights groups to demand stricter controls of exotic animal ownership.

A year later, John Kasich, then the Republican governor of Ohio, signed the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act into law, which bans the ownership of hyenas, lions, tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, various monkeys, rhinos, crocodiles, alligators and many other rare animals.

Image: Phil McCauslandPhil McCausland

Phil McCausland is an NBC News reporter focused on rural issues and the social safety net.

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