Saltwater Crocodile
Overview
The saltwater crocodile, also known as estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, (Crocodylus porosus) is the largest of all living reptiles. It is found in suitable habitats in Northern Australia
Northern Australia
The term northern Australia is generally known to include two State and Territories, being Queensland and the Northern Territory . The part of Western Australia north of latitude 26° south—a definition widely used in law and State government policy—is also usually included...

, the eastern coast of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and parts of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

.
The saltwater crocodile has a longer muzzle
Snout
The snout, or muzzle, is the protruding portion of an animal's face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw.-Terminology:The term "muzzle", used as a noun, can be ambiguous...

 than the mugger crocodile
Mugger Crocodile
The mugger crocodile , also called the Indian, Indus, Persian, or marsh crocodile, is found throughout the Indian subcontinent and the surrounding countries...

: its length is twice its breadth at the base. The saltwater crocodile has fewer armor plates on its neck than other crocodilians, and its broad body contrasts with that of most other lean crocodiles, leading to early unverified assumptions that the reptile was an alligator
Alligator
An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. There are two extant alligator species: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator ....

.
Newly hatched saltwater crocodiles measure about 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 in) long and weigh an average of 70 grams (2.5 oz).
Encyclopedia
The saltwater crocodile, also known as estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, (Crocodylus porosus) is the largest of all living reptiles. It is found in suitable habitats in Northern Australia
Northern Australia
The term northern Australia is generally known to include two State and Territories, being Queensland and the Northern Territory . The part of Western Australia north of latitude 26° south—a definition widely used in law and State government policy—is also usually included...

, the eastern coast of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and parts of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

.

Anatomy and morphology

The saltwater crocodile has a longer muzzle
Snout
The snout, or muzzle, is the protruding portion of an animal's face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw.-Terminology:The term "muzzle", used as a noun, can be ambiguous...

 than the mugger crocodile
Mugger Crocodile
The mugger crocodile , also called the Indian, Indus, Persian, or marsh crocodile, is found throughout the Indian subcontinent and the surrounding countries...

: its length is twice its breadth at the base. The saltwater crocodile has fewer armor plates on its neck than other crocodilians, and its broad body contrasts with that of most other lean crocodiles, leading to early unverified assumptions that the reptile was an alligator
Alligator
An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. There are two extant alligator species: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator ....

.
Newly hatched saltwater crocodiles measure about 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 in) long and weigh an average of 70 grams (2.5 oz). Males reach sexual maturity at around 3.3 metres (10.8 ft) at around 16 years of age, while females reach sexual maturity at 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) and 12–14 years. An adult male saltwater crocodile's weight is 409 to 1000 kg (901.7 to 2,204.6 lb) and length is normally 4.1 to 5.5 m (13.5 to 18 ft). However, mature males can exceed 6 metres (19.7 ft) and weigh more than 1000 kilograms (2,204.6 lb) and this species is the only extant crocodilian to regularly reach or exceed 4.8 metres (15.7 ft). Weight can vary enormously based upon condition and age, older males tending to outweigh younger ones since they maintain prime territories with access to better, more abundant prey. For example, crocodiles at 4.8 metres (15.7 ft) long have ranged in mass variously from 522 kilograms (1,150.8 lb) to 1000 kilograms (2,204.6 lb). This species has the greatest sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species. Examples of such differences include differences in morphology, ornamentation, and behavior.-Examples:-Ornamentation / coloration:...

 of any modern crocodilian, with females being much smaller than males. Typical female body lengths in the range of 2.3 to 3.5 m (7.5 to 11.5 ft). The largest female on record measured about 4.2 metres (13.8 ft). The mean weight of the species as a whole is roughly 450 kilograms (992.1 lb).
The largest size saltwater crocodiles can reach is the subject of considerable controversy. The longest crocodile ever measured snout-to-tail and verified was the skin of a dead crocodile, which was 6.2 metres (20.3 ft) long. As skins tend to shrink slightly after removal from the carcass, this crocodile's living length was estimated at 6.3 metres (20.7 ft), and it could have weighed more than 1000 kilograms (2,204.6 lb). Incomplete remains (the skull of a crocodile shot in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

) have been claimed to come from a 7.6 metres (24.9 ft) crocodile, but scholarly examination suggested a length no greater than 7 metres (23 ft). There have been numerous claims of crocodiles in the 9 metres (29.5 ft) range: the crocodile shot in the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 in 1840, reported at 10 metres (32.8 ft); another killed in 1823 at Jalajala on the main island of Luzon
Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the northernmost region of the archipelago, and is also the name for one of the three primary island groups in the country centered on the Island of Luzon...

 in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 reported at 8.2 metres (26.9 ft); a reported 7.6 metres (24.9 ft) crocodile killed in the Hooghly River in the Alipore District of Calcutta. However, examinations of these animals' skulls actually indicated animals ranging from 6 to 6.6 m (19.7 to 21.7 ft).

With recent restoration of saltwater crocodile habitat and reduced poaching, it is possible that 7 metres (23 ft) crocodiles are alive today. Guinness has accepted a claim of a 7 metres (23 ft), 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) male saltwater crocodile living within Bhitarkanika Park in the state of Orissa, India, although, due to the difficulty of trapping and measuring a very large live crocodile, the accuracy of these dimensions has yet to be verified.

In September 2011 a 6.17 metres (20.2 ft) Saltwater crocodile
Lolong
Lolong is the largest crocodile in captivity. A male Indo-Pacific or Saltwater crocodile , he weighs 2,370 pounds and is 20 feet 3 inches long, making him one of the largest crocodiles ever measured snout-to-tail.In November 2011, Australian crocodile expert Dr...

 was captured alive in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, making it one of the largest specimens ever reliably measured snout-to-tail.

A crocodile shot in Queensland in 1957 was reported to be 8.63 metres (28.3 ft) long, but no verified measurements were made and no remains of this crocodile exist. A "replica" of this crocodile has been made as a tourist attraction. Many other unconfirmed reports of crocodiles exceeding 8 metres (28+ ft) have been made but these are highly unlikely.

Distribution

The saltwater crocodile is one of the three crocodilians found in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, the other two being the Mugger crocodile
Mugger Crocodile
The mugger crocodile , also called the Indian, Indus, Persian, or marsh crocodile, is found throughout the Indian subcontinent and the surrounding countries...

 and the Gharial
Gharial
The gharial , , also called Indian gavial or gavial, is the only surviving member of the once well-represented family Gavialidae, a long-established group of crocodilians with long, slender snouts...

. Apart from the eastern coast of India, the saltwater crocodile is extremely rare in the Indian subcontinent. A huge population of saltwater crocodiles (consisting of many large adults, including a 7 meter male) is present within the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 and they are known to be present in smaller numbers throughout the Indian and Bangladesh portions of the Sundarbans
Sundarbans
The Sundarbans [Sundarban Tour Booking-9051115228] is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.The name Sundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language...

.

In northern Australia
Northern Australia
The term northern Australia is generally known to include two State and Territories, being Queensland and the Northern Territory . The part of Western Australia north of latitude 26° south—a definition widely used in law and State government policy—is also usually included...

 (which includes the northernmost parts of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the centre of the mainland continent, as well as the central northern regions...

, Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 and Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

) the Saltwater Crocodile is thriving, particularly in the multiple river systems near Darwin
Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. Situated on the Timor Sea, Darwin has a population of 127,500, making it by far the largest and most populated city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, but the least populous of all Australia's capital cities...

 (such as the Adelaide, Mary and Daly Rivers, along with their adjacent billabong
Billabong
Billabong is an Australian English word meaning a small lake, specifically an oxbow lake, a section of still water adjacent to a river, cut off by a change in the watercourse. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end...

s and estuaries) where large (6 metre +) individuals are common. The Australian Saltwater Crocodile population is estimated at somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 adults. Their range extends from Broome
Broome, Western Australia
Broome is a pearling and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, north of Perth. The year round population is approximately 14,436, growing to more than 45,000 per month during the tourist season...

 in Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 through the entire Northern Territory
Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the centre of the mainland continent, as well as the central northern regions...

 coast all the way down to Rockhampton
Rockhampton, Queensland
Rockhampton is a city and local government area in Queensland, Australia. The city lies on the Fitzroy River, approximately from the river mouth, and some north of the state capital, Brisbane....

 in Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

. The Alligator Rivers
Alligator Rivers
The Alligator Rivers is the name of a region in the Arnhem Land region of the Northern Territory of Australia, containing three rivers the East, West and South Alligator River...

 of Northern Australia are misnamed due to the resemblance of the saltwater crocodile to alligator
Alligator
An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. There are two extant alligator species: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator ....

s as compared to freshwater crocodile
Freshwater Crocodile
The freshwater crocodile , also known as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Johnston's crocodile or colloquially as freshie, is a species of reptile endemic to the northern regions of Australia...

s, which also inhabit the Northern Territory. In New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 they are also common, existing within the coastal reaches of virtually every river system in the country, along with all estuaries and mangroves. They are also present in varying numbers throughout the Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago
The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.-History:...

, the Kai Islands
Kai Islands
The Kai Islands of Indonesia are in the south-eastern part of the Maluku Islands, in Maluku Province.-Geography:...

, the Aru Islands
Aru Islands
The Aru Islands are a group of about ninety-five low-lying islands in the Maluku province of eastern Indonesia. They also form a regency of Indonesia.-Geography:...

, the Maluku Islands
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

, and many other islands within the region including Timor
Timor
Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, north of the Timor Sea. It is divided between the independent state of East Timor, and West Timor, belonging to the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara. The island's surface is 30,777 square kilometres...

, and most islands within the Torres Strait
Torres Strait
The Torres Strait is a body of water which lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. It is approximately wide at its narrowest extent. To the south is Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost continental extremity of the Australian state of Queensland...

.

The saltwater crocodile was historically found throughout South-east Asia but is now extinct throughout much of this range. This species has not been reported in the wild for decades in most of Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

 and is extinct in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, and possibly Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

. The status of this species is critical within much of Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, but there is a stable population of many large adults present in the Irrawaddy Delta
Irrawaddy Delta
The Irrawaddy Delta or Ayeyarwady Delta lies in the Ayeyarwady Region , the lowest expanse of land in Burma that fans out from the limit of tidal influence at Myan Aung to the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, 290 km to the south at the mouth of the Ayeyarwady River...

. It is probable that the only country in Indochina still harboring wild populations of this species is Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

. Although Saltwater Crocodiles were once very common in the Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

 (from where they disappeared in the 1980s) and other river systems, the future of this species in Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

 is now looking grim. However, it is also the least likely of crocodilians to become globally extinct due to its wide distribution and almost pre-colonial population sizes in Northern Australia
Northern Australia
The term northern Australia is generally known to include two State and Territories, being Queensland and the Northern Territory . The part of Western Australia north of latitude 26° south—a definition widely used in law and State government policy—is also usually included...

 and New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

.

The population is sporadic in Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and Malaysia with some areas harbouring large populations (Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

 and Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, for example) and others with very small, at-risk populations (e.g., Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia , also known as West Malaysia , is the part of Malaysia which lies on the Malay Peninsula. Its area is . It shares a land border with Thailand in the north. To the south is the island of Singapore. Across the Strait of Malacca to the west lies the island of Sumatra...

). Despite the close proximity to the crocodile hot-bed of northern Australia, crocodiles no longer exist in Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

. This species is also extinct on Lombok
Lombok
Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. It forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east...

, Komodo
Komodo
Komodo may refer to:* Komodo dragon, is a large species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo* Komodo , in Indonesia** kvh, a language spoken there, as listed in the standardized code ISO 639...

 and most of Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

. A small population may remain within Ujung Kulon National Park
Ujung Kulon National Park
Ujung Kulon National Park is located at the western-most tip of Java, Banten, Indonesia. It includes the volcanic island group of Krakatoa and other islands including Panaitan, Handeuleum and Peucang on the Sunda Strait.-Geography:...

 in western Java. The saltwater crocodile is also present in very limited parts of the South Pacific, with an average population in the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

, a very small and soon to be extinct population in Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

 (where the population officially stands at only three) and a decent but at-risk population (which may be rebounding) in Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

. Saltwater crocodiles once ranged as far west as the east coast of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 at the Seychelles Islands. These crocodiles were once believed to be a population of Nile crocodile
Nile crocodile
The Nile crocodile or Common crocodile is an African crocodile which is common in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon, South Africa, Malawi, Sudan, Botswana, and Cameroon...

s, but they were later proven to be Crocodylus porosus.

Due to its tendency to travel very long distances at sea, individual saltwater crocodiles occasionally show up in areas of which they are not native. Vagrant individuals have historically been reported on New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

, Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima, officially , is an island of the Japanese Volcano Islands chain, which lie south of the Ogasawara Islands and together with them form the Ogasawara Archipelago. The island is located south of mainland Tokyo and administered as part of Ogasawara, one of eight villages of Tokyo...

, Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, and even in the relatively frigid Sea of Japan
Sea of Japan
The Sea of Japan is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, between the Asian mainland, the Japanese archipelago and Sakhalin. It is bordered by Japan, North Korea, Russia and South Korea. Like the Mediterranean Sea, it has almost no tides due to its nearly complete enclosure from the Pacific...

 (thousands of miles from their native territory.) In late 2008/early 2009 a handful of wild saltwater crocodiles were verified to be living within the river systems of Fraser Island, hundreds of kilometres from and in much cooler water than their normal Queensland range. It was discovered that these crocodiles did indeed migrate south to the island from northern Queensland during the warmer wet season
Wet season
The the wet season, or rainy season, is the time of year, covering one or more months, when most of the average annual rainfall in a region occurs. The term green season is also sometimes used as a euphemism by tourist authorities. Areas with wet seasons are dispersed across portions of the...

 and presumably returned to the north upon the seasonal temperature drop. Despite the surprise and shock within the Fraser Island public, this is apparently not new behaviour and in the distant past wild crocodiles had been reported occasionally appearing as far south as Brisbane during the warmer wet season.

Habitat

Saltwater crocodiles generally spend the tropical wet season in freshwater swamps and rivers, moving downstream to estuaries in the dry season, and sometimes travelling far out to sea. Crocodiles compete fiercely with each other for territory, with dominant males in particular occupying the most eligible stretches of freshwater creeks and streams. Junior crocodiles are thus forced into the more marginal river systems and sometimes into the ocean. This explains the large distribution of the animal (ranging from the east coast of India to northern Australia) as well as its being found in odd places on occasion (such as the Sea of Japan). Saltwater crocodiles can swim 15 to 18 mph (6.7 to 8 m/s) in short bursts, but when cruising go 2 to 3 mph (0.89408 to 1.3 m/s).

Diet and behaviour

The saltwater crocodile
Crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

 is an opportunistic apex predator
Apex predator
Apex predators are predators that have no predators of their own, residing at the top of their food chain. Zoologists define predation as the killing and consumption of another organism...

 capable of taking nearly any animal that enters its territory, either in the water or on dry land. They are known to attack humans who enter the crocodiles' territory. Juveniles are restricted to smaller animals such as insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s, amphibian
Amphibian
Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...

s, crustacean
Crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

s, small reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, and fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

. The larger the animal grows, the greater the variety of animals it includes in the diet, although relatively small prey (especially fish) make up an important part of the diet even in adults. Large adult saltwater crocodiles can potentially eat any animals within their range, including monkey
Monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

s, kangaroo
Kangaroo
A kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae . In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, especially those of the genus Macropus, Red Kangaroo, Antilopine Kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Western Grey Kangaroo. Kangaroos are endemic to the country...

s, wild boar, dingo
Dingo
The Australian Dingo or Warrigal is a free-roaming wild dog unique to the continent of Australia, mainly found in the outback. Its original ancestors are thought to have arrived with humans from southeast Asia thousands of years ago, when dogs were still relatively undomesticated and closer to...

s, goanna
Goanna
Goanna is the name used to refer to any number of Australian monitor lizards of the genus Varanus, as well as to certain species from Southeast Asia.There are around 30 species of goanna, 25 of which are found in Australia...

s, bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, domestic livestock, pets, human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s, water buffalo
Water buffalo
The water buffalo is a domesticated bovid widely kept in Asia, Europe and South America.Water buffalo can also refer to:*Wild water buffalo , the wild ancestor of the domestic water buffalo...

, gaur
Gaur
The gaur , also called Indian bison, is a large bovine native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986 as the population decline in parts of the species' range is likely to be well over 70% over the last three generations...

s, bat
Bat
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...

s, and even shark
Shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

s. Domestic cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

, horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s, water buffalo, and gaur, all of which may weigh over a ton, are considered the largest prey taken by male crocodiles. Generally very lethargic – a trait which helps it survive months at a time without food – it typically loiters in the water or basks in the sun through much of the day, preferring to hunt at night. Saltwater crocodiles are capable of explosive bursts of speed when launching an attack from the water, but stories of crocodiles being faster than a race horse for short distances across the ground are little more than urban legend. At the water's edge, however, where they can combine propulsion from both feet and tail, eyewitness accounts are rare.

It usually waits for its prey to get close to the water's edge before striking, using its great strength to drag the animal back into the water. Most prey animals are killed by the great jaw pressure of the crocodile, although some animals may be incidentally drowned. It is an extremely powerful animal; in one case, a one-tonne Suffolk stallion
Suffolk Punch
The Suffolk Punch, also historically known as the Suffolk Horse or Suffolk Sorrel, is an English breed of draught horse. The breed takes the first part of its name from the county of Suffolk in East Anglia, and the name "Punch" from its solid appearance and strength...

 known to haul over two tonnes was pulled into water to its demise by a large male crocodile. A large croc can crush a full-grown bovid
Bovid
A bovid is any of almost 140 species of cloven-hoofed ruminant mammal at least the males of which bear characteristic unbranching horns covered in a permanent sheath of keratin....

's skull between its jaws. Its typical hunting technique is known as the "death roll": it grabs onto the animal and rolls powerfully. This throws any struggling large animal off balance, making it easier to drag it into the water. The "death roll" is also used for tearing apart large animals once they are dead.

Baby saltwater crocodiles may fall prey to monitor lizard
Monitor lizard
Monitor lizards are usually large reptiles, although some can be as small as in length. They have long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs. Most species are terrestrial, but arboreal and semiaquatic monitors are also known...

s, predatory fish, various aquatic and raptorial birds, larger crocodiles and other predators. Juveniles may also fall prey to tiger
Tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

s and leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

s in certain parts of their range, although encounters between these predators are rare and cats are likely to usually avoid areas with saltwater crocodiles.

Intelligence

One researcher, Dr. Adam Britton, has been studying crocodilian intelligence. He has compiled a collection of Australian saltwater crocodile calls, and associated them with behaviors. His position is that while crocodilian brains are much smaller than those of mammals (as low as 0.05% of body weight in the saltwater crocodile), they are capable of learning difficult tasks with very little conditioning. He also infers that the crocodile calls hint at a deeper language ability than currently accepted. He suggests that saltwater crocodiles are clever animals that can possibly learn faster than lab rats. They have also learned to track the migratory route of their prey as the seasons change.

Attacks on humans

Data on attacks is limited outside of Australia. In Australia, attacks are rare and usually appear in national news publications when they do occur. There are approximately one to two fatal attacks reported per year in the country. The low level of attacks may be due to extensive efforts by wildlife officials in Australia to post crocodile warning signs at many at-risk billabong
Billabong
Billabong is an Australian English word meaning a small lake, specifically an oxbow lake, a section of still water adjacent to a river, cut off by a change in the watercourse. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end...

s, rivers, lakes and beaches. In the large Aboriginal
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 community of Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land
The Arnhem Land Region is one of the five regions of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km from the territory capital Darwin. The region has an area of 97,000 km² which also covers the area of Kakadu National...

, attacks may go unreported. There have also been recent, less-publicised attacks in Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

, Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, eastern India (Andaman Islands
Andaman Islands
The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean archipelagic islands in the Bay of Bengal between India to the west, and Burma , to the north and east...

), and in Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

.

During the Japanese retreat in the Battle of Ramree Island
Battle of Ramree Island
The Battle of Ramree Island was fought for six weeks during January and February 1945, as part of the Indian XV Corps 1944/45 offensive on the Southern Front of the Burma Campaign during World War II....

 on February 19, 1945, saltwater crocodiles may have been responsible for the deaths of 400 Japanese soldiers. British soldiers encircled the swampland through which the Japanese were retreating, condemning the Japanese to a night in the mangroves which was home to thousands of saltwater crocodiles.
The Ramree crocodile attacks are listed under the heading "The Greatest Disaster Suffered from Animals" in Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records , is a reference book published annually, containing a collection of world records, both human achievements and the extremes of the natural world...

. Another notorious crocodile attack was in 1985, on eco-feminist Val Plumwood
Val Plumwood
Val Plumwood , formerly Val Routley, was an Australian ecofeminist intellectual and activist, who was prominent in the development of radical ecosophy from the early 1970s through the remainder of the 20th century....

.

External links

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