When Beat Ettlin was woken by a dark figure crashing through his bedroom window at 2am, he assumed it was a burglar. Moments later, a 6ft kangaroo was bouncing on his bed.
It was not a situation that Mr Ettlin, who lives in a leafy suburb of Canberra, the Australian national capital, had ever expected to encounter. So he and his wife, Verity Beman, and their nine-year-old daughter, Beatrix, ducked under the sheets while the kangaroo – which seemed as terrified as they were – gouged holes in the wooden bed frame with its claws, leaving a trail of blood on the walls.
The roo, which had injured itself smashing through the 9ft window of the master bedroom, jumped on top of them repeatedly. Then it was off, bounding into 10-year-old Leighton's room. "There's a roo in my room," shouted the astonished boy, from his bed. Mr Ettlin, a 42-year-old chef, originally from Switzerland, said yesterday: "I thought 'this can be really dangerous for the whole family now'."
Spurred into action, he jumped the seven-stone marsupial from behind and pinned it to the floor. Then, as the kangaroo flailed and lashed out, he grabbed it in a headlock and wrestled it into the hallway, towards the front door. Using a single, fumbling hand, Mr Ettlin – wearing only underpants, which were shredded from the tussle – opened the door and shoved his adversary into the night.
The entire episode, which began with the family dog barking in the garden early on Sunday morning, lasted only a few minutes. But it left the family stunned and barely able to believe what had happened. "My initial thought, when I was half awake, was, 'It's a lunatic ninja coming through the window,'" Mr Ettlin told Associated Press. "It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in."
The roo, which had jumped a backyard fence and then leapt 5ft to reach the window, was about his height. After being evicted, it disappeared into a nearby forest, from which it is assumed to have come. Mr Ettlin, who was left with scratch marks on his leg and buttocks, described himself as "lucky", saying: "I had just my Bonds [an underwear brand] undies on. I felt vulnerable."
Eastern grey kangaroos are common around Canberra's forested urban fringe, and during the long-running drought have been penetrating further into the city in search of food and water.
It is very rare for kangaroos to enter a house, but wildlife experts have said they occasionally may do so when in a panic, often losing all sense of caution and just bolting for a place they think might be safe from a perceived threat. The couple reported the incident to the authorities yesterday and Ms Beman, 39, praised her husband's courage, saying she did not know how many men would take on a kangaroo. "I think he's a hero," she said yesterday. "A hero in Bonds undies."