Two Melburnians got a scaly surprise on Monday when they stumbled across a crocodile sitting in the front yard of a Heidelberg Heights property.

Police attended the Wairoa Road address shortly before 8.30pm on Christmas Day. The sceptical officers were expecting to find a large lizard, but were instead confronted by a one metre long freshwater croc.

Officers called snake wrangler Mark Pelley to remove the animal. Although he has now handed on the reptile to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Pelley received calls from four separate individuals claiming ownership of the animal.

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"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."

Freshwater crocodiles can grow up to 3 metres long. Despite being native to far north Queensland, it is perfectly legal to own one as a pet.

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