The customer entered the post office, which is at 8501 Philatelic Road in Spring Hill, at around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday to drop off a package—and spotted the alligator lying on the ground in the lobby.
The reptile had made its way inside through the building’s automatic doors at some point earlier in the night, according to a statement from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
The shocked patron called the local authorities, who sent a trapper. The trapper caught and “safely removed the alligator from the lobby” of the post office, the sheriff’s office confirmed.
It is the policy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove an alligator deemed a nuisance and relocate it to a remote area away from people.
The commission’s website states that an alligator is considered a nuisance in Florida “if it is at least 4 feet in length and the caller believes it poses a threat to people, pets or property.” The alligator found in the post office on Wednesday morning was at least 7 feet long and was in an area frequented by residents and employees.
Although sightings of alligators are common in Florida, attacks on humans by the animals are rare. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the highest number of bites in a single year is 16, reported in 2001. There were 12 attacks on humans in 2020, but none of them proved fatal.
There have been several sightings in Florida over the past month and at least two reported attacks on humans.
South Carolina has also reported several alligator incidents in the past few years.
On Sunday, a 10-foot alligator was filmed roaming a quiet neighborhood in Myrtle Beach, even lying down in a resident’s front garden.
“Holy mackerel,” one woman could be heard saying during the video, while another resident advised people to “back up.”
The woman who posted the footage to Facebook, Margie Meek, said the alligator was still “roaming” the area as of Monday.
Newsweek has contacted Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for further comment.