Canberra, April 28 (IANS) A gigantic four-metre-long saltwater crocodile, kept as a pet by an Australian in Darwin, has survived a fire which gutted its owner's house, a firefighter said on Friday.
Albert, believed to be up to 70 years old, was found unscathed at the back of the property in a custom built pen after firefighters doused the flames, Xinhua news agency reported.
Albert's owner Helen Haritos was not home when the fire occurred, and was unable to alert emergency crews that a giant reptile lived in the house.
Northern Territory firefighter Bill Gleeson, describing it as a "first" in his career, said the presence of the crocodile came as a surprise.
"We quickly brought the fire under control (and were then) informed there was a large saltwater crocodile at the rear of the yard, which was a first for me. It did not affect the operations," Gleeson said.
"Albert is well contained and completely unaffected by the fire. He seemed quite happy to look at me as I was checking the premises."
Parks and Wildlife Northern Territory chief wildlife ranger Tom Nichols assessed the well-being of the crocodile following the fire, and said Albert was in a "pretty good condition".
Owner Helen Haritos has lived in the region for more than 40 years, and came into possession of the crocodile, which is licensed, after her father, croc hunter George Haritos, caught Albert in the nearby Mary River in 1958.