A police search for an escaped crocodile after two children reported that it had attacked them and munched its way through one of their shoes has been stepped down over fears that the beast might be scared away to a location where it would then be impossible to find.
The drama started when the two children claimed that they had seen the crocodile in the River aat Sachsenburg in the district of Spittal in Carinthia.
They managed to swim onto an island and then escaped to the mainland by running to the other side of the island from the crocodile – and swimming for the shore.
After a reptile expert Helga Happ had compared the tooth marks in the shoes of one of the children with a crocodile tooth it was decided that the story was not a fairytale and a hunt including a police launch and a helicopter was started.
Happ said: “We have stepped things down as there is a risk all the noise will force it to go elsewhere. If the animal is as big as described it is very dangerous.
They bite their victims and drag them underwater to drown them, and then they feed by tearing off chunks of meat with the death roll. It is not an animal to be underestimated.”
But another expert, Andreas Schedl, owner of the Klagenfurt Pet Store “Arche Exotica” said that if there was a reptile in the water it was almost certainly not a crocodile and probably just a Caiman. He also rejected the suggestion that the bite marks in the shoes were proof that the animal existed.
In the meantime however police are keeping the area sealed off to keep away people wanting to catch a glimpse of the crocodile.