How Do Crocodiles Define Their Territory?

How Do Crocodiles Define Their Territory?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 07/08/2024

Reading time: 2 mins

Saltwater crocodiles are the most territorial and dangerous animal in Australia.

There are two species of crocodiles in Australia, the saltwater crocodile and the freshwater crocodile. Saltwater crocs, also known as salties, are infamous for their territorial behaviour and danger. Freshwater crocodiles are generally less dangerous and tend to be territorial while nesting. Saltwater crocodiles have various methods to define their territory, with females and males showing different behaviours.

But should you be scared of them if you ever see one?

Crocodile habitat in Australia

Crocodiles can be found in the northern parts of Australia, including the Northern Territory, North Queensland, and northern Western Australia. The Northern Territory boasts the largest population of crocs, including major national parks such as Kakadu and Litchfield.

Saltwater crocs inhabit coastal wetlands, rivers, creeks, and nearly all saltwater areas. When visiting these regions, it’s crucial to exercise caution near water bodies. During the dry season, crocs are less active but still present in waterways. The wet season sees heightened crocodile activity, making swimming highly discouraged.

Female saltwater crocodiles

Female crocodiles are particularly territorial, especially during nesting. Once they build their nest, females define their territory, usually keeping a distance of 100 metres from another female’s nest. They fiercely guard their nests and will chase away any other crocs that approach.

Male saltwater crocodiles

Male crocodiles are territorial year-round and use distinct behaviours to mark their territory. They might slap their heads on the water to create a loud noise or snap their jaws on the water’s surface.

Male crocs engage in defensive behaviours and compete with other males attempting to enter or take over their territory. These can lead to fights, some resulting in death if one croc does not back down. If one backs away, it must find a new territory in another river system.

The question still remains, should you be scared of crocodiles? No, fear isn’t necessary, but caution is vital in crocodile country. A great way to see these impressive creatures, consider joining a one day Kakadu tour that includes the Jumping Crocodile Cruise on Adelaide River.


Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.