Watch: Alligator on the loose in Missouri lake

June 26 (UPI) -- Residents of a Missouri city are being warned to keep their distance from an alligator on the loose in a local lake.

The Bonne Terre Municipal Police Department said the alligator was reported in Bonne Terre Lake by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Authorities said the gator is about 20 inches long, but some witnesses who spotted the reptile said it appeared to be closer to 3 feet long.

The reptile is not believed to be aggressive, but police warned residents not to attempt to approach or capture it.

Police said the alligator is believed to be a pet that escaped or was abandoned by its owner.

Alligators are legal to keep as pets in Missouri and only need to be registered with the state if they exceed 8 feet long.