ATLANTA — Lamar Patterson’s mother watches his pet alligator, in case you were wondering. “She’s cool with it,” he explained. “He’s her little buddy now.”

OK, let’s backtrack: Patterson, a 2014 second-round NBA Draft pick by the Hawks who hopes to make the roster this year after spending last season in Turkey, owns a pet alligator. The alligator’s name is Pharaoh, and Pharaoh (nicknamed “Raoh”) is about 3 feet long.

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So what makes an aspiring basketball player choose a pet alligator?

“I used to watch this show on Discovery where they would hunt and kill a

lligators,” Patterson told Sporting News on Monday at Hawks media day. “That had me kind of upset, but I was fascinated by the fun facts they’d tell you about them, how their eyelids switch in light and dark and stuff like that. So then I went to Gatorland in Florida. It’s a petting zoo for alligators. And I was like, ‘I’ve got to get one.' ”

The Pittsburgh alumnus bought the alligator last year. He’s even joked in the past about having it join the team on the bench.

Mostly, he wants people to recognize how awesome alligators can be.

“They’re just like anything else,” Patterson said. “You agitate a dog, what’s it going to do? You agitate a cat, it’s going to scratch you. You just have to be smart. Alligators, they’re not pets — you can’t train an alligator. But you can be smart about how you handle it.”

And no, the little guy hasn’t taken off any fingers yet. Patterson’s biggest surprise is how little Pharaoh needs to eat.

“I feed mine like twice a week. Right now he’s eating tiny feeder mice. I can feed him more and he’ll get bigger, but I don’t want him to get bigger. Not right now, at least.”

The 6-5 swingman is one of several players vying for the Hawks’ final roster spot. He averaged 13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game in summer league for Atlanta, and small forward is a position of need.

If Patterson can get a guaranteed contract, Pharaoh may move to Atlanta from his current home in Pennsylvania. And that's bad news for Georgia's feeder mouse population.