By Lisa Cilli

BREVARD COUNTY (CBSMiami) – A Florida family is giving thanks to their dog for alerting them to an unwanted visitor in the middle of the night. It was a seven and a half foot alligator which decided it wanted to hang out on the front porch instead of a nearby canal.

On a social media post, Steffany Spratling said her dog started barking which alerted them to the 2:00 a.m. visitor.

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“He was hanging out next to a single pane window that my dog sleeps by and was a good distance away from the canal,” she posted.

Spratling called police and thanked them for responding so quickly.

“We have neighbors, including my husband, who walk dogs when it’s still dark outside, that’s why I didn’t wait.”

Seven and a half foot alligator removed from front porch of Steffany Spratling’s home in Rockledge, Florida. (Courtesy: Steffany Spratling/Facebook

She explained to people commenting on her post that it’s the second alligator picked up in the last week.

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“We have a canal right behind our home so seeing them out back is normal, but not sitting on my welcome mat lol!” She said, “He just went too far.”

Shortly after police arrived, a trapper also showed up and safely captured the wayward gator.

She said because it was so large, “they didn’t relocate it.”

That’s standard procedure for nuisance gators in Florida, which are not relocated because Florida has a healthy and stable population of about 1.3 million gators in the state. Nuisance gators are killed for its meat and hide. FWC says an alligator can be considered a nuisance if it is at least four feet in length and could be a threat to people, pets, or property.

Anyone who spots an alligator where it doesn’t belong should keep a safe distance and call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).

FWC also wants to remind the public to keep your pets on a leash and away from the water’s edge, swim only in designated swimming areas during the daylight (gators are most active between dusk and dawn) and never feed a gator.

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There are alligators in all 67 Florida counties and more than 200,000 alligators in the Everglades.