HUDSON, N.H. (AP) – A 3-foot reptile captured late last week has found a new home in Plaistow.

New England Reptile Distributors, or NERD, agreed to take the caiman – a member of the alligator family – and picked it up Monday morning, Animal Control Officer Jana McMillan said.

Hudson police officers caught the toothy reptile, named Smiley, Friday morning after a passing driver saw it trying to cross a road and called police.

The creature ran for the woods, but didn’t elude its pursuers.

“It took a defensive stance … mouth open, hissing at us,” Officer David Bianchi said after the chase. “It wanted nothing to do with us.”

Smiley’s owner, Andres Lopez, had been keeping the creature in a children’s pool outside his home. Authorities told Lopez he needed a secure cage that police had inspected, and Lopez said he thought finding the gator a new home was a better solution, McMillan said.

Lopez’s home is near several day care centers. McMillan said the alligator had stayed inside his owner’s home at night.

The caiman escape is not the first of its kind in the area this summer. Derry police were called three times to find an escaped alligator in that town.

NERD’s Web site boasts “The Most Extensive Collection of Ball Python Mutations in Captivity.” But NERD manager Bill Schubert said the organization promised the reptile wouldn’t be sold and would be used only for educational purposes.

NERD already has one alligator. Schubert said he shows it to potential buyers and tells them their pet could grow that large as well.

“I told the officer, we don’t sell too many alligators,” he added.

Schubert said he plans on renaming the reptile “Hudson.”

On the Net:

New England Reptile Distributors:

Information from: The Telegraph,

AP-ES-08-24-04 0216EDT

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