A young crocodile named Fluffy is back to her cranky old self after being hit by a bus while duck hunting in a city in northern Australia, a veterinarian said yesterday.
The 1.3m saltwater crocodile underwent emergency surgery and then spent 11 days recovering in the Marlin Coast Veterinary Hospital after the late night accident in a beachside suburb of Cairns, Doug English said.
“It was pretty dopey for a couple of days and then it got fairly cranky so obviously it was feeling a lot better,” English said.
While young crocodiles were often killed by cars on Cairns’ roads, Fluffy — so named by vet nurses because she was found with a “fluffy duck” in her jaws — was the first English said he knew of to survive such an accident.
He praised the bravery of sugar cane farmer Andrew Herrington in bringing the injured reptile in.
“Crocs go off like a steel trap — bang! — in a split second,” English said. “That’s how they can catch a duck in the air.”
Herrington said he was driving home after midnight on Dec. 10 when he came upon a bus driver trying to coax the injured crocodile off the road with a stick.
The crocodile had caught a duck and was crossing the road with it toward a creek when it was hit.
Herrington said he distracted the croc with a flashlight in the eyes before throwing a pair of overalls over her head.
He then used electrical tape to secure her jaws shut before bundling her into his SUV and taking her to the veterinary hospital where English performed surgery.
“She was quite agitated, but I didn’t think there was any great risk of personal harm,” he said.
“My main concern was for saving the little thing,” he said.
“She’d bagged herself a beautiful little Pacific Black [duck] and was heading back down the creek for dinner and didn’t quite get to eat it, the poor thing,” he added.
Fluffy was transferred on Wednesday to Cairns Tropical Zoo, where she will continue to recuperate before returning to the wild.
Crocodiles have become plentiful across Australia’s tropical north since they became protected by federal law in 1971.
Saltwater crocodiles can grow to up to 7m long and are the world’s largest reptile.