A crocodile hatchling has been handed in at a Queensland zoo after an anonymous person decided they didn’t want it anymore, wildlife officers believe.
No contact details were left when the baby freshwater crocodile was dropped off at Childers, thousands of kilometres from its home in outback north west Queensland.
Authorities believe the tiny reptile was taken in western Queensland, likely the Mount Isa region, and was being taken to the south-east, about 1,800km away.
“It’s believed the person who dropped it off was travelling to the Sunshine Coast and was going to release it in a waterway as they didn’t want it anymore,” Senior Wildlife Officer Tina Ball said.
The zoo contacted wildlife officers and cared for the reptile until it was collected.
A scale has been removed from its tail for a DNA test to confirm its origin, and a vet check has confirmed it’s in good health.
It’s now in quarantine at the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre in suburban Brisbane.
“Unfortunately, the freshwater crocodile cannot be released to the wild because we’re not sure if it was exposed to any other animals, which could potentially have exposed it to disease,” Ms Ball said.
Removing native animals from the wild and transporting them in cages over long distances can be fatal, she said.
“The usual range for freshwater crocodiles in Queensland is the Cape York region, the Townsville region and the Burdekin region, so this freshie is a long way from home,” she said.
Ian Jenkins from Snakes Down Under zoo at Childers said it was surrendered just in time.
“I’m not sure if they got a bit nervous about keeping a baby crocodile or sick of feeding it, but he was going to let it go in a creek,” he said.
Taking a freshwater croc from the wild can attract a fine of more than $5000.