nile crocodile
Detectives found a Nile crocodile living in a basement of a man's house during a weapon raid - Representational image Hans Hillewaert/Flickr

A weapons raid in St Petersburg in Russia took an unexpected turn when police officers found a crocodile in the basement of a house.

Investigators launched the raid on Thursday, 18 January, at the residence of Pavel Baranenko, founder of the Red Star patriotic group, famous for organising reconstructions of historic events, after it was found that he had undeclared guns and explosives.

The 40-year-old man is accused of being involved in reconstructions of historic military battles with period uniforms and antique weaponry, the Daily Mail reported.

But to the officers' utter shock, a six-foot-long Nile crocodile was found relaxing in a small pool of water in the house's concrete basement. Upon investigating, Baranenko told officers that the reptile had been living with him for a decade. The neighbours of the man said that he has four more reptiles in the house.

Along with the crocodile, detectives also found sniper rifles, artillery and a mortar shell, as well as over 100 cartridges and 40 Kalashnikovs. Baranenko has been taken into custody and a probe has been initiated to find out whether he complied with local laws before keeping the crocodile, RT News reported.

"In the basement of the house, operatives found a crocodile. During the search, no incidents related to the reptile occurred. The police reported this fact to the veterinary service to decide the crocodile's fate," the Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement.

Nile crocodiles are African crocodiles, believed to be the largest freshwater predators in the continent and considered the second largest living reptile in the world. As they are opportunistic apex predators and are very aggressive species of crocodiles, it is advisable not to pet them.