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Saltwater Crocodile

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A saltwater crocodile photographed at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas

About the Saltwater Crocodile

Earth’s largest living crocodilian—and, some say, the animal most likely to eat a human—is the saltwater or estuarine crocodile. Average-size males reach 17 feet and 1,000 pounds, but specimens 23 feet long and weighing 2,200 pounds are not uncommon.

Habitat

Saltwater crocs, or "salties," as Australians affectionately refer to them, have an enormous range, populating the brackish and freshwater regions of eastern India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia. They are excellent swimmers and have often been spotted far out at sea.

Hunting and Diet

Classic opportunistic predators, they lurk patiently beneath the surface near the water's edge, waiting for potential prey to stop for a sip of water. They’ll feed on anything they can get their jaws on, including water buffalo, monkeys, wild boar, and even sharks. Without warning, they explode from the water with a thrash of their powerful tails, grasp their victim, and drag it back in, holding it under until the animal drowns.

Threats to Survival

Salties are considered at low risk for extinction. But saltwater croc hides are valued above all other crocodilians, and illegal hunting, habitat loss, and antipathy toward the species because of its reputation as a man-eater continue to put pressure on the population.


WATCH: Inside a Crocodile’s Mouth

Photographer Trevor Frost and filmmaker Melissa Lesh set out to capture photos and videos of saltwater crocodiles that no one has seen before— the dinner's-eye view.