Salty burst through his shell.
“Hah I’m first out!” he squealed. The rascally reptile twitched his tail and shook himself free of the mud and leaves.
“Umph umph umph,” squawked his siblings as they wiggled and struggled out of their egg cases. He watched as they toppled down the tangled nest.
“What’s happening?” asked Salty as his mother scooped him up in her massive jaws and carried him down to the waters edge. Salty fell into the cool water. He swam to the murky bottom and crawled up to a small log where he took a look around at the green watery habitat. Further up the bank his brothers and sisters were still chirping as their mother busily dug at the nest of sticks and dirt and gently helped them out of their shells.
The first heavy drops of rain began to fall. It trickled and tickled into his open mouth.
Something moved in the water beside him. He turned. “Whoomp! Snap!” Salty lifted his snout high out of the water, the wiggling prawn trapped between his teeth. He crunched and swallowed.
“Hmm,” he dived back in and crawled along the sandy bottom looking for more tasty treats.
Soon his brothers and sisters joined him. They snapped and squawked crankily.
“I’m outta here!” yelled Salty.
The rain grew heavier.
Salty climbed onto another log and found himself riding the current. The cries from his siblings grew quieter as he floated away. Soon he realised he was all alone in this wet and wondrous world and that was just the way he liked it.
The log snagged at a turn in the river. He slid into the water and scrambled to shore. He crawled for hours through the thick forest.
All of a sudden the rainforest gave way to a clear patch of grass. “Hmmm what’s this?” he asked, just as the rain stopped. The sun shone on the most spectacular pool of water with its own waterfall. He wandered through the open gate.
“Wow, my own private billabong!” he chuckled as he splashed into the crystal clear water. After a while he climbed on to the pebbly edges of the pool. The sun beat down upon him as he lay there still as a garden statue. All around him the shrubs were buzzing and alive with skinks and grasshoppers.
“This is the life,” he said. “Freedom, food and a tropical paradise just for me.”
Then he caught sight of movement from the corner of his eyes. What was that? A funny two legged creature with thin lanky arms and legs.
Suddenly an almighty scream filled the air, “MUUUUUUUM! MUUUUUUUUM!” THERE’S A CRO…..CROCODILE IN THE POOL!”
The creature certainly knew how to make a noise. Salty dived back into the pool and sat perfectly still at the very bottom. At least here he was safe and away from that terrible noise.
The next day…..
CROCODILE FOUND IN BACKYARD POOL.
A baby crocodile was removed by wildlife officers early this morning from the backyard pool of a home in the newly established Seaview Estate. It is thought the reptile had wandered away from his natural habitat further up in the estuary during recent heavy rain.
A wildlife expert said that while it is quite rare for crocs to dive into swimming pools, crocodiles are indeed curious creatures and often search out new habitats.
The crocodile is now likely to spend the rest of his days at the Croc Zoo.
Twenty years later…
Wildlife officers at the Croc Zoo are baffled by the dissappearance of a large Saltwater croc nicknamed Salty. They have searched the entire enclosure and cannot find any damage to fences. No CCTV footage of the enclosure was available as all cameras in the area were strangely covered by hats.
Salty was described as an intelligent and cunning croc, who liked to chase the crocodile handlers who came into his enclosure to mow the grass or to feed him. Curiously he has amassed a collection of things dropped by handlers in a hurry to jump the fence whenever he was in a fiesty mood. These include hats, mower parts, odd shoes and even a set of keys.
Investigations are continuing.
*Last page- image only: Salty (wearing a hat) is basking on the edge of an estuary in a rainforest, dangling a set of keys in his claws. In the distance a bulldozer can be seen clearing the forest.