Rob Griffith / AP file
A 13.5 foot saltwater crocodile on the Adelaide river in Australia in 2005.
Australian police are hunting a killer crocodile that they believe snatched a 12-year-old boy while he was swimming with his friends.
Police said Monday that officers have been given orders to shoot any crocodile more than eight feet long in a bid to find the boy’s remains. They have so far killed two of the animals but neither had anything in their stomachs.
Northern Territory Police said in a statement the boy was swimming in the Mudginberri Billabong, a creek in the Kakadu National Park, in Australia’s Northern Territory. They said they believe he was taken at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
"It is believed the 12-year-old boy was taken by a crocodile as he and a number of other young boys were swimming in the billabong," Acting Commander Michael White said.
Another boy, also 12, suffered severe bites to both arms fighting off the beast. Police believe the "saltie" — as the sometimes salt-water animals are known in Australia — then dragged his friend under the water.
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living reptiles on Earth and can grow up to 23 feet and 2,200 pounds. They have gained a reputation as a man-eater and can live in freshwater, brackish, or saltwater.
Sgt. Stephen Constable told a news conference near the scene on Monday that police had shot and killed two crocodiles, one 14 feet the other 15 1/2 feet, but the boy's remains were not found.
He added that there had not been a "croc attack around here for quite a long time. But crocodiles are prevalent in these waters and you always have to be careful."