Quick Facts About Saltwater Crocodiles

Quick Facts About Saltwater Crocodiles

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 04/01/2016

Reading time: 5 mins

The Saltwater Crocodile in Australia’s Northern Territory is the largest reptile in the world, and has remained one of the deadliest predators for more than 100 million years.

Saltwater Crocodile Facts

Found across the wetlands and areas in north Australia, including Kakadu, Broome, and the top end of the Northern Territory, these magnificent beasts can reach a whopping 7m in length, though most adult males come in at around 5m. There are thought to be around 200,000 Saltwater Crocodiles in Australia, with the most found in the areas surrounding Darwin and the Mary River.

Over the years, they have been hunted for their skins and have almost been brought to extinction on a number of occasions. In fact, in the 1950s, numbers became so low that hunters had trouble even finding any in the first place. Since then, conservation efforts have been put in place to ensure the crocs can flourish and breed without the danger of hunters. As a result, their numbers have increased drastically, and they now form an important part of the ecosystem in Northern Australia.

Quick Facts About Saltwater Crocs:

  • As Old as Dinosaurs

    Saltwater Crocodiles are one of the oldest creatures to walk the planet. They first appeared over 240 million years ago, which was during the Mesozoic Era, i.e. the time of the dinosaurs. While others have evolved into different shapes and forms, the crocs stuck have stuck to the same structure for the last 200 million years. Many wonders how the crocodiles survive while the dinosaurs did not, with many theories answering them.

    One of the theories is due to their blood, most particularly how they were cold-blooded creatures. Scientists have discovered the majority of dinosaurs were warm-blooded, meaning they had to constantly eat to fuel their metabolisms while they absorbed heat slowly. During the cold and dark conditions following the Yucatan meteor, many warm-blooded creatures did not survive, whereas the crocodiles could withstand. Another theory suggests it was due to them being freshwater creatures, as rivers and lakes were less impacted by the meteor.

  • The Biggest reptiles in the Entire World

    These crocs can live up to 70 years and usually grow to around 5m, although the largest of their kind was found in the 1980s near the Mary River and measured in at an impressive 20 feet.
    When they’re born, baby Saltwater Crocodiles can weigh as little as 60g. This all changes when they reach adulthood, though, as large males can often weigh in close to 1,000kg.

  • Crocodiles lay eggs

    Saltwater Crocodiles breed during the wet season in the Northern Territory, and females can lay up to 50 eggs, which they build nests for along the nearby river banks. The eggs incubate for around 3 months before hatching, and it’s the temperature of the nest that determines what sex the offspring will be. Amazingly, only 1% of hatchlings survive into adulthood.

  • Pack a Mean Punch

    With around 68 sharp teeth, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of a croc. Larger members of the species can exert two tonnes of pressure with a single bite and, if their teeth break off in the process, they simply grow some new gnashers in their place.

  • They cannot Sweat

    Crocodiles are cold-blooded, which means they cannot produce their own heat. This makes the tropical climate of Australia perfect for these creatures. However, a drawback for this hot climate is their inability to generate body sweat. Therefore to cool off the crocs sit along the riverbank with their mouths open.

  • Top of the food chain

    Saltwater crocodiles are predators to anything they face, including humans. Their typical prey includes smaller reptiles, fish, turtles, and birds. However, if faced with larger prey, these crocodiles don’t back down, known to capture livestock, buffaloes, and adult humans.

  • They can only eat above ground

    Crocodile Eating

    Though crocodiles often strike their prey from underwater, they can’t swallow below the surface. This means they have to lift up their prey in order to eat. However, crocodiles can open their mouths underwater to catch the prey. They have a valve at the bottom of their mouth which seals it off from their breathing path.

  • Faster than Speedy Gonzales

    Saltwater Crocodiles can reach speeds of 10km per hour in water and can run on land up to 11km in short, sharp bursts.

  • Marathoners

    Although these crocodiles have a reputation for their speed, their endurance is also worth noting. With some records stating that can travel as much as 900 kilometres in one go.

  • Temperatures Determine their Gender

    When a crocodile lays a nest of eggs, the temperature surrounding these eggs will determine the gender of these hatchlings. Lower temperatures produce females, whereas higher temperatures create mostly males.

  • They are Protected Animals

    Back in the day, these saltwater crocs were hunted almost to extinction. However, in 1871, they became a protected species and now it estimated it is around 150, 000 in the wild.

  • Camouflage Abilities

    Crocodiles range from dark green, grey, to brown, with white underbellies. This murky colour is on purpose, as it blends perfectly with the natural murky brown of the Tropical waters. The crocs use this to their advantage, slowly creeping up to their prey when submerged in the waters.

  • Sleep with one eye open

    Crocodile Sleeping

    The legend that a croc sleeps with one eye open isn’t just a spooky story to scare tourists but in fact the truth. They do this by doing unihemispheric sleeping. This involves only shutting down one half of their brain and keeping the other alert to any nearby danger.

  • They have a famous “Death Roll” Move

    This is a hunting behaviour the crocs are famous for; the death roll. and involves literally rolling rapidly in the water in order to remove the limbs of its prey. This is due to their teeth being designed for gripping, not ripping.

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.