Giant Lizard Attacks Elderly Couple and Their Pet Dog in a 'Horrific and Freak Ordeal'

An elderly couple in Australia were injured in an attack by a goanna lizard while attempting to save their dog from the giant reptile. A 72-year-old man suffered severe lacerations and heavy blood loss in the attack which occurred in Flametree, near Airlie Beach in Queensland, on August 15.

The CQ Rescue service said the large reptile "suddenly turned on them" and latched onto the man's arm, as well as biting the woman, during "a horrific and freak ordeal," according to ABC. The couple's dog, reported to be a Jack Russell cross named Lily, was severely injured but survived the attack. Earlier reports stated the dog had died.

"The man suffered a very serious laceration and possible fracture of his right forearm as well as severe bleeding from his leg wound. He was in considerable pain," a spokesperson for the rescue service added.

Queensland Ambulance Service Senior Operations Supervisor Shane Tucker told The Guardian: "He was breaking up an attack on his dog—he was rescuing his dog. He has had quite significant injuries to his arm and leg and has had some blood loss."

The man was airlifted to Mackay Base Hospital for treatment, GQ Rescue said on Twitter, while his wife was sent the Proserpine Hospital. Both are in a stable condition.

Speaking to ABC, Tucker said the 72-year-old man was lucky to have not been more seriously injured during the attack by the lizard, some species of which can grow to more than 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length.

"I would imagine it could have the potential for some significant, even life-threatening, injuries due to the nature of the animal," Tucker said. "I believe they are quite an aggressive animal. Any wild animal that is cornered is going to protect itself. Definitely out of the ordinary. Sounds like he's quite lucky, however, to have sustained the injuries that he has and still be in a stable condition."

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary reptile keeper Dave Ryan said the best advice if anyone sees a goanna is to leave it alone. "They have very sharp claws that they use for climbing trees and scratching open termite mounds…but razor-sharp teeth," he said.

"They will scratch your arms up, but the bite is far worse than any of the scratches, those razor-sharp teeth just open you up very, very easily. With habitat loss and building of more suburban areas a lot of these animals are getting pushed into smaller and smaller locations where they're competing more for food, food becomes scarce, so then they have to disperse back into those suburban areas."

File photo: A goanna sits on the grass in Lumpini Park on September 3, 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand. A couple has been hospitalized and their dog killed in a goanna attack in Australia. James D. Morgan/Getty