Three-Foot Crocodile On The Loose on Christmas Day Shows Up On Suburban Lawn

Do you feel like making a bet? A study finds that holding a 3-foot-long crocodile increased bets in certain gamblers but decreased them in gamblers who admitted to more negative feelings. Ian Waldie/Getty Images

In the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, a couple came upon a Christmas-evening surprise: a small crocodile was lounging in their yard.

This area isn't known for having a population of crocodiles, so the couple had no idea where it came from. Neither did the police, who were skeptical when they got the call, according to The Guardian.

Expecting to find a misidentified lizard, they instead found a saltwater crocodile measuring about three and a half feet. An average-sized adult male of the species can grow to 17 feet and 1,000 kg— they represent the largest living reptiles in the world.

"We're running on the presumption that it was a pet at some stage," Acting Sergeant Daniel Elliott told local media, according to Sky News. "It's a long way from any bodies of water so we don't think it would be able to make its way there."

They called the local snake-catcher, Mark Pelley, who said that he had never before been called in for a crocodile. He captured the animal and put it in a box. He'll keep it until the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning can collect it, or until the police can find where it came from or whose pet it was.

Despite their name, saltwater crocodiles can live in freshwater, and specifically need freshwater to breed. They primarily eat small animals, but with a bite-force of 3,700 lbs per square inch—more than any other animal—adults can take down larger animals like livestock and occasionally humans.