A crocodile has been found at a petrol station in central Queensland.

Police say the half-metre-long reptile was found by a member of the public at the business in the coastal town of Cardwell on Boxing Day.

The animal has been handed over to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection for care and release.

Police could not say whether the crocodile was being kept at the petrol station or it had found its own way there, but they are investigating.

They said it was an offence to be in possession of any protected species of animal without authorisation.