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Man Loses Wedding Ring, Arm to Crocodile; 'They Never Brush Their Teeth'

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LIMPOPO PROVINCE, South Africa -- Pieter Abrahamse has an original excuse for a lost wedding ring: a crocodile ate it, along with the arm it was attached to.

"He took my wedding ring, I suppose he ate it up," Abrahamse told Reuters by telephone from his hospital Monday as he recounted his life-or-death struggle with a man-eating reptile.

The 47-year-old farm manager had the lower part of his left arm torn off in the attack last Thursday on a citrus plantation in South Africa's northern Limpopo province.

But he's counting his blessings as he could easily have lost his life.

"I took my horse for an evening swim in one of the farm dams. There are lots of crocs and hippos in the area but they move around all the time, from dam to dam and into the river and out again," he said.

"I was on the lookout for hippos and didn't see any. It slipped my mind that there might be crocodiles," he said.

He was standing belly-deep in water about 5 metres from the shore when he felt a biting jolt in his left hip. He said thought it was a hippo but quickly realized it was a crocodile.

"I started to fight immediately. So I hit him with my left arm and then he went for my left forearm," Abrahamse said.

"It pulled me under the water for a few seconds and I knew this was his biggest advantage. I realized if I didn't stand up my wife will never find me again," he said.

Somehow, he managed to stumble to his feet and then he felt the crocodile lose its grip.

"What I didn't realize at the time was that it had let go because it had taken part of my left arm off," he said.

With his right arm, Abrahamse then grabbed the rope of his horse, which fortunately for him chose that moment to take flight, dragging him to safety.

Abrahamse then walked 200 metres to his house and his wife drove him 60 kms (40 miles) to the nearest hospital.

"I'm lucky, I didn't lose too much blood … The biggest problem with a croc bite is it can be septic. They never brush their teeth," said Abrahamse.

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