A small alligator was spotted as it tried to take a dip in a koi pond Thursday night in a Petaluma neighborhood, according Petaluma Animal Services.

Petaluma police responded to a report around 9 p.m. that a 4-foot long reptile with lots of teeth was crawling around a backyard on Faye Court, and called the nonprofit for help, said Petaluma Animal Services Officer Mark Scott.

“We found it behind a koi pond. It’s a place with fish and water,” said Scott, who responded to the incident. “If I was an alligator, that’s where I would go.”

No fish were harmed as the alligator was unable to climb the lip of the artificial pond, Scott said.

The reptile, named Darth Gator, escaped from the home of Bonnie Cromwell, who runs the Classroom Safari, an animal rescue and education group, Scott said.

Alligators are illegal to have as pets in California unless permitted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Scott said.

Classroom Safari has proper permits for the creature, but Fish and Wildlife will follow up with the group to determine if the animal was properly stored, Scott said.

Darth Gator is currently safe with Sonoma County Reptile Rescue and will be returned to Classroom Safari when the group can provide proper accommodations for the animal, Scott said.

You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or nick.rahaim@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nrahaim.