The Saltwater (or Estuarine) crocodile is the biggest species of crocodile and the largest living reptile in the world. Adult males are on average 4 to 5m long and weigh more than 450 kg; females are smaller, generally around 3m long and up to 150 kg. The upper body is grey, brown or almost black above, with irregular darker mottling and they are generally whitish on the underside. An adult Saltwater crocodile generally has 65–67 teeth and is believed to have the greatest bite pressure of any living animal.
Distribution and habitat
‘Salties’ are found in Australian coastal waters, estuaries, lakes, inland swamps and marshes. The species’ distribution ranges from Broome in WA through the Northern Territory to Townsville in Qld and occasionally further south. They can also live in freshwater.
Adults are known to prey on a variety of species, including mud crabs, birds, sea turtles, fish, flying foxes, dingoes, cats, dogs, pigs, buffalo, cattle and horses. When hunting, they lie in wait partially submerged or completely underwater – able to hold their breath for up to 10 -15 minutes by reducing their heart rate to just 2-3 beats per minute.
Life expectancy and breeding
Saltwater crocodiles can live for 80 – 100 years.They mate & 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.
VULNERABLE (QLD) | SPECIALLY PROTECTED WA (EPBC)
Billabong Zoo has a ‘monster’ saltwater crocodile, Shrek, now approaching 5m in length and weighing over 500 kilograms. He is approximately 50 years old.