Fortunately, after calling in the police and keepers from the nearest zoo, her alarm turned to relief, when it was discovered that the metre-long reptile in question was an inflatable toy.
The woman, who was making lunch in her kitchen when she spotted the imitation beast, intiailly ran to her neighbour's house, on Cundy Close, Plymouth. They warned her that is was too dangerous to approach the animal, which they said was probably a baby crocodile, unarmed
Even police officers and wildlife experts from Dartmoor Zoo, who sooon turned up, were initially fooled. It was only when officers, who were armed with snare poles, nets and riots shields, threw water over the toy that they realised what it was.
The imitation croc was removed from the garden and placed in police custody, while the Dartmoor Zoo team were stood down.
"I was making my lunch in the kitchen and looked out into the back garden," the woman, who did not wish to be named, said.
"It was pouring with rain and I saw what I thought was a crocodile in the garden. I went to my neighbour's house to ask if they would come and have a look at it.
"They did think it was a baby crocodile and suggested calling the RSPCA or the police but we decided to call the police as I have a three-year-old and was worried.
"A policeman and a policewoman arrived and at that point we were all a bit suspicious because it hadn't moved.
"One of the police officers bravely went out to have a look. They threw water on it and it didn't move. I'm absolutely mortified."
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that officers attended the incident following the woman's call at 12.20pm.
He added: "We received a call from a concerned member of the public reporting that an escaped crocodile was in their garden, approximately 3ft in length.
"The caller was concerned for her child and the RSPCA and Dartmoor Zoo were informed and on their way to the zoo.
"Police officers attended and bravely investigated. The beast turned out to be an inflatable toy crocodile. Police have apprehended the crocodile."
A spokesman for Dartmoor Zoo said experts were regularly called out to deal with escaped pets including lizards and snakes.
He said the zoo received a call from police at around 12.30pm and assembled a team to attend the garden within 15 minutes.
"The team were on the road with all the equipment needed," the zoo spokesman said. "They were halfway there when we received a call from the police to say it was a toy.
"Our team have a variety of equipment to deal with such situations, including snare poles, nets on poles and riot shields.
"We also have dart guns but did not bring them on this occasion."