Wildlife Ranger Survived Crocodile Attack by Wrestling Animal, Poking It in the Eye: 'It's a Tank'

A wildlife ranger in Australia who was attacked by a 9ft crocodile has spoken of how he saved himself after poking the animal in the eyes.

On Sunday, Craig Dickmann—who was off-duty during the incident—was fishing at a remote beach at the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, which is the largest piece of unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia. The 54-year-old was packing away his equipment at Captain Billy Landing when a crocodile rose from the water and attacked him, he told Australia's ABC news outlet.

The 2.8-metre animal sunk its teeth into Dickmann's thigh. The ranger then wrestled with the animal and managed to escape.

"[The crocodile was] rolling and if you can imagine, I am lying on the rocks on my back at this stage, trying to get away from it and it's virtually on top," he told ABC.

"There is no weakness on this thing—it's a tank—my thoughts were 'I was going to try to push my thumb into its brain', so I pushed down as far as my thumb could go."

But the crocodile struck again, biting his wrist and peeling back the skin on his hand as they tussled. Dickmann said it looked like a fleshless hand in an anatomy textbook.

Dickmann pressed down on the crocodile's jaw. He told 7NEWS: "I think both the croc and I had a moment where we were going, 'well, what do we do now?'"

He then flicked the crocodile down, and it slid off into the water.

The predator's bite just missed Dickmann's femoral artery on his thigh, he told 7News, and he will still be able to use his hand. "It could have been a lot, lot worse," he said.

But the sound of its jaws "will haunt me forever," Dickmann said.

Dickmann told ABC he was wearing Crocs shoes at the time, and "had a weird moment" where he thought about going back to find them. "I thought 'you idiot'," he said.

After his terrifying ordeal, Dickmann drove from over an hour to Heathlands Ranger Station where he called for help. A ranger was able to give him first aid, and drive him for another hour to Bramwell Station where a plane could pick him up. He was taken to Cairns Hospital, where he is recovering.

Katie Corkill, a nurse with the Rural Flying Doctor Service told ABC she was impressed by Dickmann's resilience.

Following the attack, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service tracked down the crocodile and euthanized it, according to a statement. Officials used a helicopter to spot the animal.

The authorities warned crocodiles may be more aggressive during what is the wet season, as they look for mates and breeding grounds.

A spokesperson from the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science told Newsweek: "Wildlife officers decided on the target based on the location, the size, and the behaviour of the animal. They had also obtained detailed information from the man who was attacked. Officers were fully confident it was the right animal.

"The animal was still considered a threat, based on its aggressive behaviour and location. It was in the ocean near the attack site, and was fully exposed on the surface, with head and tail up, and unperturbed by people."

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A stock image shows a saltwater crocodile. An off-duty ranger was attacked by a similar animal in Australia on Sunday. Getty

This article has been updated with information from the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science.