TAMPA (CBSMIami/CNN) – A west coast Florida family came home to an unwelcome guest – a small alligator leisurely swimming in their backyard pool.

“He was crawling on the bottom, going from one corner to the other,” said Carlos Rivera.

He added that he was glad he noticed the gator before their small dog found it.

The family stayed inside and ate dinner Monday evening, hoping the gator would find its own way out.

“We saw him walking around for a while, we were wondering who we should call, like my dad said, then we decided we were probably the best, I dunno,” said Carlos Rivera’s daughter Veronica.

A Hillsborough Co. man found a gator in his backyard pool. (Source: WFTS, Carlos Rivera)

Veronica Riveria assumed the gator got into the lanai by crawling through a fence then a doggy door.

The gator eventually got out of the pool on its own and strolled through the yard.

“When we came back outside he wasn’t here any longer, he was outside in the yard out in the hammock,” said Carlos Rivera. “S0 that time we tried to grab him and turn into a bit of a fiasco out here trying to grab him.”

Veronica says her boyfriend helped her dad get the gator safely into a garbage bin. The boyfriend then took the gator to a pond where it likely belongs.

State wildlife officials will dispatch a trapper if an alligator is a nuisance, but it must be at least four feet in length and pose a threat to people, pets, or property.

The Rivera family sais they’re glad the gator was small enough so they could remove it safely on their own, but they’ll think twice when they step onto their lanai.

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