MELBOURNE: When Victoria Police responded to a call from two Melbourne residents who had come across a crocodile while out on a stroll, they were "highly sceptical", expecting that it was probably a large lizard.
Instead, officers were "surprised" to see the 1m-long reptile "sitting quietly" on a footpath in the Melbourne suburb of Heidelberg Heights when they arrived shortly after 8.30pm (5.30pm Singapore time) on Monday evening, Victoria Police said in a media release on Tuesday (Dec 26).
"Knowing this was a job for the experts, a reptile catcher was notified and successfully captured the ... crocodile," the police said.
"The critter will remain with the carer until the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning can collect it."
Snake hunter Mark Pelley told Channel NewsAsia that he received a call from police at about 9.20pm.
"When I found the crocodile, it was having a standoff with police. It was very brave, it was not backing down from five police officers at all ... And it ran away from me."
Mr Pelley said it was his "first time ever" catching a crocodile, and that the reptile tried to bite him "many times" during the process. "It ran away, and I had to dive into the bush in the dark. I then caught the tail and picked it up."
He quipped that he's had "fantastic presents" the past two Christmases.
"Last year (on) Christmas (Day) I caught a brown snake in a hospital - they're the second-most venomous snake in the world - and this year, I get a crocodile walking the streets. I cannot wait for next Christmas."
The reptile is now "walking around" in his living room, he said, as the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is closed for the holidays. He plans to give them a call on Wednesday morning.
Acting Sergeant Daniel Elliott said police were working on the presumption that "it was a pet at some stage".
Mr Pelley agreed, saying the crocodile was likely to be someone's "escaped pet, or it's hitched a ride from Northern Australia and somehow found its way to suburban Melbourne".
It is not known where the reptile came from, Victoria Police said, adding that anyone missing a crocodile or with information on its owner should come forward.
According to a tweet by 7 News Adelaide, several people have tried to claim the crocodile.