The Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is perhaps northern Australia’s most famous resident. These extraordinary creatures, who have survived since the age of dinosaurs, are found across northern Australia, including Kakadu & Arnhem Land and Far North Queensland.
Australia is home to two species of Crocodile (the Saltwater as well as the Freshwater Crocodile [Crocodylus johnsoni]). Although the male Saltwater Crocodile rarely exceeds 5 metres in length, the largest individual ever recorded was in the Philippines in 2011, measuring 6.17m!
Although ‘Salties’ can live in the sea, they do prefer estuaries and freshwater swamps and will often venture further inland to floodplains, river and billabongs during the breeding season (September to November). From November through to March, Females with lay between 30-70 eggs in a nest mound constructed from mud, soil and vegetation.
After approximately three months, the eggs will hatch, revealing fully-formed babies which the mother will transport to the water's edge where they will start swimming immediately. Interestingly, the sex of these hatchlings is dependent on the temperature at which the eggs were incubated.
Where can I see the Saltwater Crocodile with an expert guide?
Kakadu & Arnhem Land and the Daintree River north of Cairns offer numerous boating opportunities to view Australia’s apex predator. Please note: Tours may be subject to seasonality.
The best time to view them is the end of the dry season (August to November), when the water level recedes. Here, they can be viewed sitting on riverbanks, resting in the sun, or perhaps stalking some prey. Their stealth abilities when hunting are astonishing - they move quietly through the water with their eyes and snout barely visible and once in range, launch themselves at speed, snapping their powerful jaws around their prey and (if killing a non-aquatic animal) immediately take them to the deeper waters to drown them.
Q: Is it true that the gender of the eggs is dependent on the incubation temperature?
A: Yes - one of the Saltwater Crocodile's evolutionary mechanisms is their temperature-dependent sex determination. The incubation temperature of the eggs determines the sex of the young.
Q: How much does the Saltwater Crocodile weigh?
A: On average, a male will weight up to 500kg but as a species, can reach up to 1000kg!
Q: How long does a Saltwater Crocodile live for?
A: They have a relatively long lifespan of over 65 years, with reports of some living up to 100 years! 'Scarface', who has been named King of the Daintree River in Far North Queensland, is believed to be between 50-60 years old and weighs an estimated 450 kilograms.