A giant American alligator has used rising floodwaters to escape its enclosure, forcing a risky reptile relocation in heavy rains.
Keepers at the Australian Reptile Park on NSW's Central Coast discovered the male 'gator had crossed an internal boundary fence, and was stuck between barriers.
They were forced to conduct the dangerous operation manually, grabbing the animal around the belly and returning him to the lagoon and 55 other alligators.
Head reptile keeper Jake Meney said the torrential rain made the task much more difficult and dangerous, with the 'gator and the ground becoming "incredibly slippery".
"You never really know the temperament of an alligator, so although this guy was pretty happy to be relocated, we have to be prepared for him to change his mind at any stage," Meney said.
"Although there was no danger of him breaching the main boundary fence near visitors, there was still no way he would have been able to get back into the lagoon on his own."
NSW and Queensland were hit with heavy downpours over the past 48 hours, causing flash flooding in some areas.
Severe thunderstorm warnings were in place from Sydney to Newcastle, as well as parts of Western NSW.
Overnight, between 25-50mm of rain battered the central and northern NSW coast, continuing into the morning with some locations getting 60-80mm in an hour yesterday.
"That's causing some dangerous flash flooding in these parts of the world," Dean Narramore from the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The rain is expected to continue throughout the week with a surface trough lying across eastern inland Australia triggering showers and thunderstorms.
Staff at the Australian Reptile Park said they would monitor their resident animals closely during the wet week ahead.