Gators glimpsed in Rock County

A small alligator is seen swimming in the Rock River near Riverside Park in Beloit. Experts believe more gators are being purchased and then released in Wisconsin.

It shouldn't come as a surprise if you start spotting alligators in the Rock River.

Tom McNeal, owner of Swords and Dreams Reptile Rescue, said alligator spottings are increasing in Wisconsin.

Two small alligators recently were spotted in the Rock River along Riverside Park in Beloit, calmly swimming with their heads poking out of the water.

McNeal said alligators in the Rock River were put there by someone that bought it, thinking it would die in the winter.

He said most alligators can't live in colder temperatures, however, they have been known to adapt rather quickly to their environment.

“A lot of fish gather near water treatment plants during the winter because they pump out warmer water,” he said. “An alligator could easily find something similar and survive.”

McNeal, who has owned his store in Milwaukee for about 10 years, said he gets calls at least twice a week looking for help with alligators.

McNeal said he takes in all kinds of exotic animals; however, those looking to donate the animal will most likely have to come to his Milwaukee store.

Angela Rhodes, executive director for the Rock County Humane Society, said they haven't received any calls about alligators in the Rock River.

However, the society was called a few years ago about an alligator that was left behind in a home. Rhodes said the society had to contact a reptile rescue company because the Humane Society can't take in alligators.

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