ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — A crocodile was captured in the most unusual of places: Outside a shopping center in the middle of the day.

The reptile was running around in a Roseville parking lot after it managed to escape from a taped-up crate.

Reptile shops say they get dropoffs all the time—usually snakes or lizards. But this was the first time they’ve had a crocodile at their door.

“We’ve seen bears; we’ve seen panthers, but no, I’ve never seen a crocodile,” said Sgt. Jason Bosworth.

A suburban surprise for Roseville Police and animal control officers who had to wrangle a fiesty croc on the loose in Roseville.

“They just surrounded it, kept their distance, and he just used a catch pole that we commonly use on dogs to get it secured and put it in a cage,” Bosworth said.

The 4-foot crocodile was found wandering a shopping center off of Douglas Boulevard around 8 a.m. on Wednesday after it got out of a plastic box, and under the skin of some shoppers.

It was left abandoned in front of The Serpentarium reptile shop, making for a wild tale for shop employees.

“We are a safe surrender site, but we normally get more common animals, like bearded dragons, iguanas and ball pythons,” said Abigail Kessler. “A crocodile is unusual.”

Bosworth believes it was someone’s domestic animal they couldn’t handle anymore. He worries what could have happened if it wasn’t caught so quickly.

“If some kid came across it and decided they would take the tape off the mouth to see what happened, now you have a loose crocodile that’s probably annoyed and could probably attack someone playing with it, or someone walking by,” he said.

Luckily, no one, including the crocodile, was injured. But many won’t forget the day they saw the reptile roaming in Roseville.

“If you can’t control it or don’t have the proper means to keep it contained, you shouldn’t have it,” Bosworth said. “It’s also illegal in the state of California.”

The crocodile is now safe with the Department of Fish and Game, and it will likely be turned over to a local rescue organization.

Not only is it illegal to have a crocodile as a pet in California, but also, depending on what type of croc it is, it could be considered an endangered animal.

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