This 5m plus monster croc snuck up on a man in Adelaide River as he pruned his trees. Picture: Supplied
This 5m plus monster croc snuck up on a man in Adelaide River as he pruned his trees. Picture: Supplied

Howdy neighbour: Giant croc sneaks up on man

A BARBED wire fence was all that separated an Adelaide River man from almost certain death after a massive saltie snuck up on him while he was out in the garden.

The man, who did not want to be named, was pruning some trees on the rural block when the saltie - estimated to be 5m plus long - crept up behind him with only a few strips of wire between the pair.

The croc's jaws were wide open and still caked with blood after apparently chowing down on a nearby calf and its full belly may have been all that prevented the ancient predator from crashing through the fence and making the man its lunch.

Darwin's resident croc expert and Crocodylus Park owner Grahame Webb said it was unusual for salties of that size to be wandering around during the dry season but not unheard of.

"It could have got caught in some billabong that's drying up," he said.

"Sometimes at this time of year crocs that have moved out during the wet season into little billabongs or soaks, they suddenly dry up and they try to walk back to the river."

Prof Webb said the croc was probably trying to get back to a permanent water source as the landscape continued to dry over recent weeks.

"They spread out in the wet season a bit and then get caught out in the dry season."

Prof Webb said while the croc could have easily taken a small cow, the blood on its snout could also have come from an injury sustained on its journey back to water.

"If he's been walking overland and getting through fences and things like that it's quite possible he's got the end of his snout damaged. It might not be from eating the cow," he said.

"They try to push through things, so I don't know if he's killed a calf but he could easily do that. If it's killed a calf, it's probably dismembered it, grabbed bits and thrown it around." Prof Webb estimated the saltie was between four and five metres.

"Farmers down south think they have problems with kangaroos," he said.