Innisfail's Lee de Paauw was grabbed on the left arm by a crocodile as he was climbing out of the Johnstone River on Fitzgerald Esplanade about 2:30am.
The 18-year-old managed to punch it with his right arm and escape.
Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) called to the scene were initially told the teenager's hand had been amputated.
"He is very lucky. Initial reports was that his hand was completely amputated and on arrival that was not the case," QAS supervisor Rita Kelly said.