By Brendan Moyle 02/06/2016

As possibly the only New Zealander to be a member of the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group, it seemed timely to introduce a few facts about crocodiles. All photos below were taken with me during work (except for the alligator at the bottom) in the Northern Territory of Australia.  I had lookouts to help take the photos…

  1. The Estuarine crocodile is named for the salt-excreting pores on its hide. These are visible in the dots in the scales shown below.
    crocodile 2
  2. There are two indigenous Crocodile species found in Australia.  These are the Estuarine (or saltwater) and the Johnston River (or freshwater).  Their popular names are the ‘saltie’ and the ‘freshie’.
  3. The Estuarine crocodile is also the largest living crocodile species on the planet.  It can grow up to 7 metres long and weigh 1000kg.  This makes it larger than the Nile crocodile and the American Alligator.  The American alligator is larger than the American crocodile however, which is why many people think alligators are larger than crocodiles.big croc
  4. Despite the popular name of ‘saltie’ or ‘saltwater’ crocodile, the Estuarine crocodile is also at home in freshwater billabongs and river tributaries.  Assuming there will not be an Estuarine crocodile in freshwater can have fatal consequences.
  5. The Estuarine crocodile’s adaptations to cope with saltwater has allowed its range to extend from the Indian ocean to northern Australia.  It occurs in high densities in both Papua New Guinea and Australia.
  6. The Estuarine crocodile is an active predator.  It is responsible for many attacks on livestock and unfortunate people over its range.  The palate at the back of its throat, allows it to hold prey underwater for long periods without swallowing water.  crocodile
  7. Most crocodile attacks in Australia occur when people enter crocodile habitat.  That is, enter rivers or pools where crocodiles occur.  Guidelines to avoid crocodile attack include not cleaning fish on the edge of rivers, and camping 50m+ away from the edge of the river.  They have legs.  They can use them.
  8. Crocodile numbers have increased in Australia after commercial hunting was banned, and crocodile farming and ranching was introduced.  In addition the large crocodiles targeted by hunters have been replenished by growing numbers.  While it was once rare to see any crocodiles over 3.1 m for males, or 2.3 for females, these are more common.  Many crocodiles now are 4-5+m long.  They’re big animals that weigh 100s of kilograms.
    crocodile 3
  9. Management of crocodiles in Australia included removal of problem animals, culls of dangerous crocodiles, and public education campaigns about what to do avoid attacks by crocodiles.
  10. The Estuarine crocodile is one of the ‘true’ living crocodiles (Crocodylinae) within the Order Crocodilia.   There are actually two alligator species, one in the US and one in China.  These are in the separate Alligatorinae subfamily.

    American Alligator