LOOK: Viewer sends in photos of alligator on Lake Wylie

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A family out on Lake Wylie this week spotted an alligator.

“One of my twins saw it sitting on a log,” the father, James Thomas, said.

“It looked kind of like a lizard; it didn't really look real,” Brandon Thomas said.

But the family soon realized it was real and James took pictures of the gator.

“Brandon was in the water to start with and he immediately got out,” James said. “That was his last time in for the day.”

A wildlife biologist told Channel 9 Friday that the alligator was likely dropped off by someone who illegally took it when it was just a baby, then later realized they couldn't take care of a wild animal.

“He didn't seem very shocked by us,” James said.

People have spotted alligators before in Lake Wylie, also likely dumped.

Alligators are native to North Carolina but they don't live far inland and it's difficult for them to survive the cold winters. The alligator will have a tough time making it even if he is doing well so far, officials said.

“Looked like he had a nice little spot back there,” James said. “I hope people don't try to go after him. He may survive, I'm not sure.”