A large croc was lurking just metres from a man when he was rescued after 36 hours lost in a remote national park in far north Queensland.
The Cairns man, 30, has told rescuers he kept his energy up by eating tadpoles, ants and grasshoppers during his ordeal in the Lakefield National Park west of Cooktown.
Rescuers have told News Ltd the man could have become croc food if they had not arrived when they did on Saturday night.
"He was in really thick scrub around one of the waterholes and there was a big croc sitting there waiting for him," Emergency Management Queensland helicopter pilot Darryl Humphreys said.
"It was a very decent-sized croc."
The drama began on Friday when the man got lost while on a camping and fishing trip with three mates. His friends raised the alarm on Saturday afternoon, and a rescue mission was launched.
Rescuers spotted him just before midnight after seeing a flash from the man's camera.
Mr Humphreys said the man had walked 40km after becoming lost, ending up in an area notorious for crocs.
"The (local guide) who was giving us the local lay of the land just said there's no way he's up in there because that's just suicide," he said.
"He'd been walking without shoes on so his feet were pretty cut up."
Police said the man was extremely lucky. Officers will investigate why the group was in the national park, which is currently closed.
The man suffered only mild exposure, Mr Humphreys said.