A man who fought off a killer crocodile who had his head in its jaws wants authorities to shoot it dead.
Mark Ridge, 56, was swimming in Lake Placid in Cairns, Queensland, when he was attacked by the saltwater crocodile at about 12.40pm on Thursday.
The 2.5m reptile grabbed his head in its jaws and Mr Ridge fought back, putting his hands into the mouth of the beast to pry its teeth off his scalp.
Mark Ridge, 56, (pictured) prised the crocodile’s jaws off his head then swam 400m to safety
The crocodile responsible is believed to be about 2.5 metres long (stock image)
The jaws snapped shut on his left forefinger – which amazingly was not severed or broken – and the injured man managed to swim 400m to safety.
The authorities are now hunting for the crocodile which they believe may have left the popular tourist swimming lake and returned to the nearby Barron River.
Their intent is to catch and relocate the creature.
However Mr Ridge wants it shot dead.
‘I don’t want them to catch it, I want them to shoot it, it’s a menace,’ he told the Courier Mail.
Queensland Department of Environment and Science spokesman Dr Matthew Brien said if the croc had been slightly larger at 4m, Mr Ridge would have been killed.
‘The chances of surviving an attack from a 4m crocodile are zero,’ he said.
Mark Ridge (pictured) was swimming in Lake Placid in Cairns, Queensland, when he felt the jaws of a crocodile on his head before managing to free himself
Dr Brien said there was a 4m crocodile that is often seen just 1km away from the scene of the attack.
Another crocodile was removed from Lake Placid more than a year ago, and a 3m reptile was shot dead by wildlife officers in 2017 in the lake due to the risk it posed to swimmers.
Crocodile numbers in Queensland have exploded since 1974 when the species was protected after they were hunted nearly to extinction.
Saltwater crocodiles can grow up to 6m with some males exceeding this.
It takes a long time for them to grow this large however the risk posed by the increased numbers of large crocodiles since protection have often sparked calls for a cull.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan floated a shoot-to-kill policy ahead of last year’s Queensland election for crocodiles spotted in public hotspots.
The policy would see hired professionals on call to attend beaches, waterholes and work sites to reduce the threat.
Critical care paramedic Paul Sweeney said Mr Ridge was treated for multiple lacerations to his head, hands, and shoulder but was lucky that crocodile’s teeth had not severed one of the arteries in his neck, which could have been fatal.
Mr Ridge said it was the first time he had encountered a crocodile but took it in his stride, saying it’s not every day ‘you get chewed on’.
‘You’ve only got two weapons, that’s your hands, so you do what you have to do,’ he said.
Pictures of Mr Ridge’s injuries show cuts to his scalp and under his ear
Mr Ridge’s daughter Mili earlier told Seven News that Mr Ridge was in pain but would be fine.
‘He is at home resting, he said his head hurts a bit and he is in pain but should be OK,’ she said.
Pictures of Mr Ridge’s injuries, shared with Seven News, show cuts to his scalp and under his ear.
Mr Sweeney said the injured man was conscious when paramedics arrived.
‘There was definite evidence of puncture wounds through his scalp to the right side of his head from either the upper or lower jaw,’ he said.
Mr Ridge swam slowly to shore, terrified the reptile would attack again. Pictured: Lake Placid
‘There were additional puncture wounds, then, to the left angle of the jaw, the cheekbone there and the jaw, corresponding to a bite which the … the animal has bitten his head with jaws either side’.
Mr Ridge was doing swimming training in the water, Mr Sweeney said, when he felt a ‘sudden impact clasp on the top of his head’.
‘He put his hands into the jaws to prise them off his head, and when he did so and let go, the jaw snapped shut onto his left forefinger, which wasn’t broken or severed thankfully,’ he said.
Mr Ridge was taken to Cairns Hospital where he is in a stable condition.
Rangers from Queensland Parks and Wildlife are investigating the croc attack.
Warning signs were recently put up at the popular tourist spot after sightings of a two metre crocodile in the area.