Saltwater Crocodile Facts
How Long Do Saltwater Crocodiles Live For?
There is no reliable method of determining a Saltwater Crocodiles age. One report (not verified) is of a crocodile in captivity in Russia that died in 1977 aged 115 years of age. The crocodile was reportedly captured in the 1890's as a 5 to 10 year old animal. There is evidence to suggest that a well fed crocodile held in captivity will outlive one living in the wild. Most estimates of a Saltwater Crocodiles age are educated guesses. Personally I am fairly confident that Saltwater Crocodiles can live in excess of 100 years of age and that the world has not yet seen the actual size they can attain.
How Old Is The Species?
The first crocodiles appeared on the earth 240 million years ago and were able to run on their hind legs on land, that is why even today a crocodiles hind legs are longer than their front legs.
The Saltwater Crocodile's Tail
The Saltwater Crocodile's tail can be just as lethal as it's jaws. A large crocodiles powerful tail can break the legs of a man with one swipe. The tail can propel the animal through the water at speed of up to 40 kilometres per hour. It's tail can propel the crocodile completely clear of the water and crocodiles are known to jump clear of the water to seize prey from the branches of an overhanging tree. Tourist operators on the Adelaide river in the Northern Territory make large crocodiles execute a jump on a daily basis using food to tempt the crocodile. Crocodiles can run very quickly but only in short bursts.
Baby Saltwater Crocodiles Mortality Rate
The majority of newborn Saltwater Crocodiles will not survive their first year of life. Up to 99% will be eaten by large fish, birds, goanna's, monitor lizards and adult crocodiles. A female crocodile will lay between 20 to 80 eggs in a nest constructed of plant matter and incubate them for 3 months. During this time the female crocodile will fiercely defend the nest and is never far away.
Crying Crocodile Tears
You may have heard the saying - to cry crocodile tears - this refers to the fact that crocodiles can actually weep when eating. This is more a biological process than the crocodile feeling any remorse for killing the animal. A crocodiles eyes can bubble and froth when feeding due to the air being pushed through it's sinuses mixing with the crocodiles tear glands.
Glow In The Dark Eyes
All Saltwater crocodiles eyes will glow red in the dark when a torch is shined on them. Crocodiles have a layer of Tapetum behind their retina which contains crystals that reflect light and give the crocodile an excellent night vision. If you shine a torch around in waters populated by Saltwater Crocodiles at night you will see pairs of red dots shining back at you.
Four Chambered Heart
Saltwater Crocodiles have a four chambered heart which is also found in birds (a crocodiles closest relative) and also in mammals. When diving the crocodiles heart acts as a three chambered reptilian heart allowing them to stay underwater for 2 - 3 hours at a time.
Cooling Off Regulating Body Temperature
Saltwater Crocodiles do not sweat like humans sweat to cool off. A Saltwater Crocodile will lay on a river bank with it's mouth wide open to regulate it's body temperature by sweating through their mouths.
Saltwater Crocodiles exhibit increased aggression during their mating season which usually occurs during the wet season in the tropics (monsoonal period).
The Difference Between A Saltwater Crocodile And An Alligator
A Saltwater Crocodile has a salt gland which allows it to live in fresh or saltwater. An Alligator is not able to live in salt water for very long. A Saltwater Crocodile is far more aggressive than an Alligator. A Saltwater Crocodile must live in a warmer climate than an Alligator. There are differences in the shape of the head of the two animals. A Saltwater Crocodiles snout is a different shape than an Alligators.
Crocodiles As Sacred Animals
Some humans worshipped the Saltwater Crocodile. The ancient Egyptians venerated the crocodile while some tribes in Papua New Guinea scarred themselves with crocodile like body scarring, a painful procedure that involves cutting the skin and rubbing hot ash/coals into the wound. In Australia some Aboriginal tribes/communities regarded Saltwater Crocodile as a Totem animal off limits to hunting while other tribes/communities actively hunted the crocodile for food becoming experts at killing the animal.
A Saltwater Crocodile Cannot Be Trained
A trust can never be built with a Saltwater Crocodile. No matter how long it is held in captivity you cannot train a crocodile to perform tricks. The ONLY thing you can get a crocodile to do is to make it jump, swim or run for a food reward. Crocodiles do not make good pets and can never, ever be trusted not to attack and kill.
Saltwater Crocodile Teeth
A Saltwater Crocodile's teeth will regenerate for the life of the animal. A crocodiles jaw contains 24 teeth that are designed for grabbing and holding rather than shredding. If a tooth is lost it will regenerate. With teeth unable to cut and shred the Saltwater Crocodile will perform death rolls spinning it's body to tear off large chunks of flesh it can swallow. Saltwater crocodiles will also swallow rocks to aid in digestion and which also act as ballast to aid the crocodile to swim and stay under water for long periods.
Saltwater Crocodile Size
Male Saltwater Crocodile grow much larger than females. The Saltwater Crocodile is the largest reptile on earth. Male Saltwater Crocodiles are know to grow as large as 6.32 metres (20.7ft) with an unverified size of up to 7 metres (23ft) in length. In 1957 Krys an attractive polish immigrant is said to have shot and killed the largest saltwater crocodile in Australian history. An unheard of size of 8.63 metres however this was never officially verified though widely believed to be true. A female saltwater crocodile usually doesn't exceed 3 metres (9.8ft) in length.
The soft underbelly of the Saltwater Crocodile is highly prizes for use as a durable attractive leather and fetches a high price as fashionable hand bags, shoes and other items used by humans. The tough skin on the back of the crocodile is not used as it is so tough it will deflect, knives and even bullets.
Distribution in Australia
Since the Saltwater Crocodile was protected in Western Australia in 1970, The Northern Territory in 1971 and Queensland in 1974 numbers have exploded. The Saltwater Crocodile is now found as far south as the Mary River (Hervey Bay) in Queensland. People should expect to encounter Saltwater Crocodiles in coastal areas anywhere north of the Tropic of Capricorn however they are being found south of that line across the country with increasing frequency. Saltwater Crocodiles can be found on beaches, in creeks and rivers, mangrove systems and also in fresh water. Crocodiles are known to walk overland and have been found in dams on cattle stations 500 kilometres from the nearest salt water.
Saltwater Crocodiles Diet
The Saltwater Crocodile in an opportunistic expert ambush predator and will pretty much eat any animal it can catch. Humans, mammals, birds, crabs, fish, flying foxes, snakes, lizards, cattle and even other crocodiles. Everything is on the menu. An expert and skilled hunter the Saltwater Crocodile has been known to observe it's prey from a distance, watching over a number of days as an animal comes to the water to drink and then waiting just under the water at the waters edge to attack the animal. Humans who have camped 50 to 100 metres from the water have been dragged from their tent during the night by a large Saltwater Crocodile.