Australians fight over Christmas crocodile custody

At least four people are claiming ownership after the croc was found.
At least four people are claiming ownership after the croc was found. Photo credit: Mark Pelley

They have a reputation for being cold-blooded and untrustworthy, and now Australians are living up to their stereotype in a crocodile custody battle.

The one-metre-long saltwater crocodile, nicknamed St Nick Your Face Off, was discovered in a suburban street in Melbourne on Christmas night.

Police say the croc, which was "sitting quietly" on the footpath, was turned over to reptile catcher Mark Pelley.

They asked anyone missing their crocodile, or with information about its owner, to contact them, but they didn't expect so many people to respond.

Four people so far have attempted to make off with the reptile by claiming it's theirs.

"One person claimed it was theirs and said they lost it a week ago," Mr Pelley told The Age.

"Another said 'no need to get the authorities involved' and said they could take it off my hands straight away.

"One person said they were calling on behalf of a friend, while a fourth person just said, 'I heard you on the radio. It's my crocodile.'"

Mr Pelley says the real owner will need to prove it's theirs by producing their registration or evidence of their time with the creature.

"I want the animal's welfare taken care of," Mr Pelley says.

"That's the most important thing to me."