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Crocodile spotting in German lake prompts closure

Jessica PhelanGlobalPost.com

BERLIN, Germany — Authorities in Schwandorf, southern Germany, have closed off a popular swimming hole where they believe an escaped crocodile is hiding out.

Two sightings of the reptile have been reported at Lake Klausensee, according to a statement by local police. 

A dog walker claimed to have seen what he thought was a meter-long croc last weekend – at which point a woman came forward to say that she had, too, had met the beast while swimming.

As she swam toward her inflatable mattress, she told police, suddenly she found herself covered with soil and saw an animal with a large tail swim over her. 

The encounter left her with a 7cm-long scratch on her left shoulder, the police statement said.

Admittedly, it's hardly Jaws. 

"This animal is about as dangerous as a naughty dachshund," the Hamburger Abdenblatt quoted the deputy director of Nuremberg Zoo, Helmut Mägdefrau, as saying.

"If they bite, of course it hurts. But it doesn't kill you."

The real question is how the animal – which is certainly not native – got there. According to the Spiegel Online, police believe the most likely explanation is that it was kept as a pet and its owner abandoned it. 

Oddly enough, this is the third crocodile to have been released in the area in the past seven years, a police spokesman told the news site.

Police divers are searching for the crocodile, but with no luck yet. They plan to continue the hunt by night, when they stand more chance of spotting the nocturnal reptile, the Deutsche Presse Agentur reported.