Living with Crocodiles


It's not unusual for pet-owners to wake up with their animal at the end of the bed. It happens to 16-year-old Andrew Lowing quite often because his mother Vicki lets her three prized pets have the run of their house.

The only difference is that Johnie, Fovian and Jilfia are crocodiles.


Snappy families: Vicki Lowing cradles one of her her pets on the sofa at home


Time to wake up: Johnie - the 14-year-old freshwater female - crawls across Andrew's bed

But Vicki - nicknamed Croc Lady in Melbourne - isn't worried that Andrew might become breakfast in bed for the giant reptiles because they have lived together so long she believes the beasts are now fully domesticated.

The 53-year-old nurse has kept crocodiles for more than 30 years and even claims she can communicate telepathically with 14-year-old Johnie, a 1.5 metre (5ft) freshwater female who weighs 12kg.


Cat scan: The suspicious family feline gives its larger housemate the once over


Nice crocs: Vicki admits to getting funny looks while walking he pets

'I'm convinced crocs are psychic,' said Vicki, stating a belief that is often put forward in Australia. They don't look like they do much but there's a lot going on behind those eyes. Johnie is definitely psychic. The way she looks at me sometimes, I know she's trying to tell me things. She has definitely communicated with me telepathically. It usually happens when she feels a bit crook and she wants me to know she needs some extra TLC. I get a shiver like I've seen a ghost and I know she's trying to get through to me.

'I've had Johnie the longest and she's very domesticated. She and Andrew used to compete as youngsters for attention. If Johnie ever thought he was getting too much attention from she'd pinch his toys and hide them. When I tell her off she goes into a corner and sulks. She can be a real madam. Competing for attention with her son and her oldest pet are cranky saltwater creature Jilfia and her little snapper Fovian.

Three-year-old Jilifia is 2.4 metres (8ft) long and weighs 30kg, meaning it is already the size of a ten year old. Vicki admits to keeping her distance from Jilfia because the saltwater snapper has a nastier temper than the others. Vicki doesn't actually know if Jilfia is a boy or a girl because crocodiles crocs don't have external sex organs and their sex can't usually be determined until they have an examination at the age of five.


Lounge lizard: Each of the two oldest creatures have their own water tanks and sunlamps

The baby of the trio is freshwater Fovian, who at 45cm long and just 4kg in weight is so small he - or she - lives in the bath.

Johnie and Jilfia have their own separate ponds because, being territorial creatures, they are liable to take chunks out of each other, which means when one is in the bedroom, another is in the lounge and the other is in the bathroom. Each have their own heaters and sunlamps to maintain their body heat at a constant 25 to 30 degrees C, which is essential to keep them healthy and active, but they are also allowed to wander freely around Vicki's bungalow.


Pets at the vets: Vicki's crocodiles get all the health care they need because Johnie once bite her while ill.

Explaining her fascination with the creatures, Vicki said: 'I watched a movie called An Alligator Named Daisy back in the 1960s and from then on I was hooked. Mum got me a snake at four and I got my first croc at 22. People who know me say I'm the Croc Lady. I don't mind.


A night on the rep-tiles: One of the crocs relaxes on the floor at home.

'I look after them properly and they're well cared for. They get the best chicken meat to eat and all the health care they need. My girl friends were shocked at first but they've gradually gotten used to them. Apart from when they take over the bathroom. There have been a few screams when people go to the loo. I don't think I'll run out of space for them here at home and if I do I'll move into a bigger place.


Are we there yet? The creatures are as welcome in the family car as they are at home.

'I'm going to have crocs 'til the day I die, for sure. Amazingly, despite Johnie nipping her a decade ago while ill, there have been no injuries from the notorious predators.

Vicki admits neighbours keep their distance when she takes her pets for walks but on the plus side she has never had problems with burglars. Perhaps the biggest problem it presents for the Lowing family is that it tends to scare off Andrew's girlfriends. 'The crocs don't really bother Andrew but they certainly bother his friends and girlfriends,' said Vicki.

'The latest girlfriend did a runner as soon as she saw Johnie, which was a bit unfortunate.'