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All Creatures,

Episode 70: Saltys Down Under, AKA Saltwater Crocodiles

January 22, 2019

The Saltwater Crocodile is another iconic species to Australia. This largest reptile in the world has earned a fearsome reputation, but when left alone, they serve a critical role as a top predator in their areas of the world.

Saltwater Crocodile Description

According to the IUCN there are 24 species of crocodilians. This does include the American and Chinese Alligators. These animals live throughout tropical regions of the globe. Of the 24 species, 11 are threatened with extinction.

Crocodiles evolved even before dinosaurs, nearly 200 million years ago. They evolved from their early ancestors the Allosaurs. When dinosaurs evolved shortly after, they drove the earliest crocodilians into the water.

The Saltwater Crocodile lives primarily in Australia, Indonesia and coastal regions of Southeast Asia.

The largest Saltwater Crocodile on record was nearly 23 feet long and weighed over 2600 lbs. Adult males tend to be up to 18 feet long and weigh 2200 lbs. Female are much smaller and can get as long as 10 feet long but weight much less at 260 lbs.

Saltwater Crocodile Facts

Saltwater crocs eat almost anything it can catch. While attacks on humans are rare, they do happen. It is estimated around 1,000 people around the world are killed by crocodiles each year. However, the Nile Crocodile tends to be deadlier.

Other facts include:

  • Can live up to 100 years old
  • Cassius is the oldest crocodile in the world at 112 years old
  • Saltwater crocs can survive in salt water with special glands near their tongues that help excrete excess salt
  • They dive on average 4-6 minutes but can stay under for 15 minutes
  • Crocodile tears (fake crying) is thought to come from the tears seen on crocodiles when they are eating. People presumed they were “sad” at killing but this is not true. Rather, the animals in aggression flush their tear ducts, thus is appears they are crying.
  • Can swim up to 18 mph (29 kph)
  • Can run/walk at 9 mph (12 kph), which is jogging speed for a human
  • Ectotherms, meaning they need the sun to warm themselves

Conservation

Of the 11 species threatened with extinction, the most critical are the Chinese Alligator with 86 individuals and Philippine’s Crocodile with less than 130 individuals.

Conservation Tips

Practice good water conservation. If you do not have a low flow toilet, you can grab a water bottle and fill it with water or rocks and put it in the outflow of your toilet to reduce water use. Also, take a shower rather than a bath and invest in low-flow output shower heads.

Organizations to Support

Australia Zoo

Videos

Cassius World’s Oldest Crocodile

Alligator vs Bumper

Crocodile Mother

 

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