CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - A 60-pound, five-and-a-half-foot American crocodile made a grand entrance into a Coral Gables neighborhood over the weekend causing quite the commotion.

Fearing for the safety of residents, Pesky Critters Wildlife Control trappers, also known as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Crocodile Agents, were called in to handle the situation.

With local police on standby Saturday, the area was secured to ensure no one got hurt while the female crocodile played hide-and-seek in the bushes right in front of a house.

Todd Hardwick and Noah Dean, trappers from Pesky Critters, wasted no time in nabbing the reptile and bringing it into custody.

“When they are in the middle of the road, that’s not a good thing,” said Hardwick.

This isn’t the first time an alligator or crocodile was found and trapped in a residential neighborhood. Last month, an alligator was spotted in a lake at the Colony Lakes Apartments in Homestead.

“In this case, the best thing for that crocodile… I have no doubt the animal was in danger of being run over or somebody was in danger for doing things they shouldn’t do,” Hardwick added.

Prior to that, Hardwick and his team captured an 11-foot, 500-pound alligator in Homestead on May 25.

In Florida, crocodiles are a threatened species and are considered endangered everywhere else in the United States.

The Pesky Critters team took the necessary steps to ensure the American crocodile’s well-being. After giving it a clean bill of health, they released the crocodile into the waters of southern Biscayne Bay.

“So basically after about seven minutes, she stopped rolling and fighting, I knew it was time to gently sit down and tape her mouth up,” said Hardwick. “We carried her to the truck and rushed her straight to the bay, she was back in the water in less than ten minutes.”

The trapper said that in the months of April, May and June, crocodiles and alligators are on the move, warm and hungry— warning Floridians to stay alert.

“This particular alligator decided to make a forward lunge and came pretty close to having a chance at me.”

For people’s safety, Hardwick recommended staying at least 20 feet away from bodies of fresh water, keeping pets on leashes at all times and never attempting to catch or tease a crocodile or gator in an encounter; even the small ones can cause severe damage.

“Any body of fresh water in Florida can contain an Alligator and sometimes a crocodile. At any time, don’t ever drop your guard, we can all get along, just a little common sense will take you a long way.”

In response to this story, a spokesperson for FWC provided the following information about crocodiles:

“The American crocodile is shy and reclusive. Conflicts between them and people are extremely rare in Florida. However, people should use caution when near them. The FWC takes public safety very seriously and administers a program designed to be proactive and responsive. Whenever someone is concerned about an American crocodile, they should call 866-392-4286 (866-FWC-GATOR), and one of our crocodile agents will respond.

To reduce the chances of conflicts with crocodiles, the FWC also advises the following:

  • One of the most important steps you can take is never feed a crocodile — it’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, they can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.
    • Anglers are reminded to dispose of fish scraps in trash cans. Do not unintentionally feed crocodiles by throwing fish scraps in the water. 
  • Crocodiles are most active between dusk and dawn so swim only during daylight hours and in designated areas. 
  • Keep pets on a leash and away from the water including designated swimming areas for people.
  • For more information on living with crocodiles, see our brochure and video.”

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