SYDNEY // An Australian reptile park worker had a terrifying experience when he realised a giant saltwater crocodile had latched onto his lawnmower as he tidied the beast's enclosure.
The five-metre crocodile known as Elvis did not like it when Billy Collett and another man went to cut the grass in his home at the Australian Reptile Park north of Sydney.
"It happened that fast, it was that scary," Mr Collett said.
"We'd just started mowing, the croc's sitting about five foot away from me in the water, then [the] next second he's attached to the end of the mower, dragging it in, and almost taking me into the drink with him.
"My heart almost jumped out of my chest."
Tim Faulkner, the park's operations manager, said Mr Collett was right to abandon the mower to the 500 kilogramme Elvis, who was rescued from the wild after he began attacking fishing boats in the northern city of Darwin.
"It's pretty well known that crocs don't like lawnmowers," Mr Faulkner said.
"Normally we can get out of his way ... and obviously you keep the mower between you and the croc. But this particular time he just come quick."
"You're not going to win with a 500 kilo croc on the other end," he added.
The territorial Elvis snatched the mower and dragged it to the bottom of his pool where he jealously guarded it until his keepers could distract him with fresh kangaroo meat.
"We lured the croc around one side with a food item, and whilst he was there jumping for his food I just jumped into the water, grabbed the mower and scarpered," Mr Faulkner said.
"We don't want a mower sitting in the bottom of the pool for him to play with."
The encounter cost the 50-year-old Elvis a couple of his huge teeth and the zoo a mower, but Mr Faulkner said he still loved the cantankerous beast, who was removed from another reptile farm after killing some of his female companions.
"I love him. I absolutely love him. He's cranky."