It’s the ‘unknown factor’ that captures our interest. These creatures are deceptive, sneaky and unpredictable. The world’s largest reptile is Australia’s very own Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocodile.
Commonly known as ‘Salties’ and can be found across all of northern Australia from Broome in Western Australia, right across the Northern Territory’s Top End and down northern Queensland to Rockhampton.
It is important to note that these crocodiles are equally at home in freshwater and saltwater and regularly move between the two.
this incredible carnivore has been on top of the food chain for 100 million years.
The population of Saltwater Crocs in Australia is thought to be as high as 200,000 with the highest concentration around the Mary, Adelaide and Alligator river systems in the Northern Territory however, crocodiles became a protected species in Australia by 1974, and since then numbers in the wild have increased significantly.
Opportunistic predators, they lurk patiently beneath the surface near the water’s edge, waiting for potential prey to stop for water. They feed on anything including water buffalo, wild boar, fish and sharks and have at times taken humans.
Caution is key to longevity
Living with these risks, we don’t swim in the rivers, creeks or billabongs and rarely in the ocean. It’s been noted that some fishermen brave the crocodile infested rivers for a chance at catching a barramundi … it’s only a matter of time!
We have learned very quickly that these creatures are everywhere, they are quick … and silent!
A number of Jumping Croc tour companies are based on the Adelaide River (less than an hour from Darwin) provide interesting boat tours with crocodile facts and local history and a chance to look at the crocodiles in they’re own habitat.
They are natural jumpers. They will jump to catch food — low flying birds are equally at risk as are buffalo, cattle and wild boar. It is worth noting that just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there!
Be Aware of the Crocodile warning signs
Crocodile Quick Facts
- Modern crocodiles have been around for about 100 million years, and their ancestors first appeared about 240 million years ago.
- Crocodiles can live for up to 70 years and can grow to between four and five metres. The largest confirmed crocodile from the Northern Territory was trapped in the Mary River in the 1980s and measured a bit more than 20 feet.
- Baby crocs start out weighing just 60 grams, but the largest adult males can reach close to 1,000 kilogram’s.
- The average density of crocodiles across tropical Australian rivers is five crocs per kilometre, but the Mary River in the Northern Territory can average as many as 20 crocs per kilometre.
- Crocodiles mate and reproduce during the wet season from November to March. A Female can lay up to 50 eggs in nests along riverbanks, where they incubate for about three months before hatching. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings and when they hatch, the mother croc will carry the hatchlings to the water in her mouth and release them. Less than one per cent of hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
- Crocodiles have sensory organs at the base of their teeth that allows them to sense minute pressure changes to strike underwater. They cannot swallow prey underwater, however, and must lift their heads above water to swallow their food.
- Crocodiles have 68 fearsome teeth in their jaws that replenish constantly if broken off. A large croc can exert more than two tonnes of pressure with its bite.
- Crocodiles can swim as fast as 10 kilometres per hour and can run over open ground as fast as 35 kph for short bursts.
- Crocodiles are opportunistic predators and will eat just about anything they can catch. While juveniles tend to stick with small prey, adults will take large mammals if the opportunity presents itself.
Caution should always be followed when entering crocodile habitats.
Reference: Northern Territory Tourism Central