A resident of the eastern Iowa city of about 68,000 people bought the alligator after spotting an online advertisement, but he later learned state law does not allow people to keep alligators or other exotic animals, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported Monday.
The resident turned the gator in to animal control officials, who kept the creature in an aquarium while figuring out what to do with it. Then the gator started snapping and making noises.
"He was really kind of cute, but he was also kind of naughty," said Maria Tiller, Waterloo's code enforcement forewoman. "I didn't want him in my office anymore."
The alligator was moved to the Pawsitive Pet Care, a veterinary center, where staffed dubbed the animal "Chompey." The alligator then was sent to a herpetologist in Des Moines, where the animal's being held in quarantine while staff seek a sanctuary in a warmer climate for Chompey.
Josh Colvin, who heads animal control for Animal Rescue of Iowa, said alligator reports have dropped since the state ban on exotic animals was approved in 2007. Still, he said, people occasionally drop off gators.
"They just don't realize they are going to grow up and get big," Colvin said. "The unfortunate part is that people don't think it through, and then animal control has to pick up the pieces."
Iowa law also bans residents from owning lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, ocelots, elephants, bears, monkeys, crocodiles and some snakes. Exceptions can be made for zoos, circuses, fairs, animal shelters, veterinarians and researchers.