Robert Appleton

Fantastic Journeys

Facts about saltwater crocodiles:


Crocodylus porosus

The largest and deadliest reptile on the planet, the saltwater crocodile lives in northern Australia, eastern India, and southeast Asia.

Image copyright holder (GFDL)MartinRe at en.wikipedia

Its average life span in the wild almost equals that of a human male (70 years).

Its average length is almost three times that of a human male (17 ft).

The quintissential carnivore, the saltwater croc feeds on anything it can catch, from monkeys to sharks.

Its bite strength is 5,000 psi (the strongest on Earth).

Its method of catching prey is to lie submerged a few feet from shore, wait until an animal comes to drink, and then explode up with a thrust of its powerful tail, clamping its jaws around the creature. It will then pull its prey underwater, rolling it over and over to drown it. The crocodile swims so stealthily, and accelerates so quickly from the water, that even animals with lightning reflexes like impala are caught unawares.

'Salties' (as they're referred to in Australia) occasionally reach a length of 23 ft and a weight of 1,200 kg.

They are extremely good swimmers and have been spotted quite far out to sea.

The female crocodile lays up to 60 eggs at a time, though only a very small number will reach adulthood.

The saltwater or estuary croc cruises through the water at around 2-3 mph, but can sprint-swim at speeds of up to 18 mph.

On land, its explosive acceleration can almost match a human runner, though only in very short bursts.

It will generally bask for much of the day and feed at night.

It is what is known as an apex predator, as its natural position is top of the food chain.

It rarely attacks humans, mostly because the saltwater crocodile is fiercely territorial, and we have learned to avoid its domain. In regions where human precautions are poor, however, reports of fatal croc attacks are far more common. They are very dangerous.

The controversial mass crocodile attack on Ramree Island, 1945, remains the deadliest recorded attack by wildlife on humans. Hundreds of Japanese soldiers are said to have been killed, though conflicting reports vary the number considerably.