This very large estuarine crocodile is in the Victoria River about 180 km from where the river enters the sea. It is certainly big enough to be a man-eater.
Many children have an absolute fascination with dinosaurs, egged on by good movies like Jurassic Park and wonderful displays of giant fossils of enormous animals like Tyrannosaurus Rex.
In our own backyard, today we have their reptile cousins from a family called the crocodilians who are more worthy of our interest because they are more successful – they have survived, are still here to be seen, not just bones, but living Australian animals we have been lucky enough to see in their natural habitats.
In Australia, in our northern tropical parts of Queensland, the Territory and West Australia we have very large populations of two sorts of crocodiles known commonly as “freshies and salties”.
Another “saltie” in the Victoria River, slightly smaller, very active and dangerous to humans,
or the wallabies that regularly swim across the river to get better grass or to escape the dingoes
“Freshies” are actually estuarine crocodiles, living where the rivers run into the sea and are equally at home in fresh, salt or brackish water. They very dangerous because the are wonderfully camouflaged, so floating still they look like a log, they can stay underwater for a long time and move very fast through the water, or for short distances on land. They grow to a huge size. While we were staying here we heard of one caught in the Territory, which was more that 6 metres long and took 2 landrovers to drag out of the water. The crocodiles jaw has enormous crushing power but is not very good at chewing off bits. Once it gets a grip it drags it’s prey under water in a death roll until it drowns.
By comparison, the freshwater crocodile seems friendly. It is much smaller, with a very pointed jaw, with bottom teeth that actually come through the top jaw that give it an excellent grip on the fish and insects it feeds on. If you disturb them under water they might bite, but just to defend their territory.
This freshwater crocodile was about 2 metres long when it swam under our boat in Lake Argyll.
In this lake, under absolutely perfect conditions, these crocodiles reach their maximum size.
Both species of crocodiles lay eggs in the sand or gravel above the water level where thy ear very vulnerable as lizards, birds, foxes dig up the eggs as a tasty treat – from every 100 eggs only one crocodile survives to be an adult, but once they mature the only predator on the” freshie” is the “saltie” (crocodiles are cannibals – they eat their own species if they can) while the only thing that kills the big Estuarine salty is man – that’s if the crocodile doesn’t get him first!
This picture shows the very different shape of the head and jaw of the freshwater crocodile.
Both species are cold-blooded, like all reptiles so they like to lie and warm up in the afternoon sun.