Crocodiles are one of Australia’s most iconic creatures, and Saltwater crocs are one of the most common varieties. These huge, prehistoric creatures are dangerous and territorial, but they are also incredibly impressive and beautiful.
Found mostly across the north of Australia in places like Darwin and its surroundings, the name saltwater crocodile is actually a little misleading. These creatures can be found in the brackish waters along the country’s coastlines, but can also be found in freshwater rivers, swamps, and billabongs that are set miles away from the sea.
Australian saltwater crocs take the title of largest reptile in the world thanks to their bulky mass that can weigh over 1000kg. Males can clock in at 6 or 7 metres in length, though this is fairly rare and most usually measure up to 5 metres.
The Feeding Habits of Saltwater Crocodiles
Saltwater crocodiles (or “salties” as they are known in Australia) predominantly eat small reptiles, turtles, fish, and wading birds that they hunt in the water, but they also eat much larger prey like wild pigs, livestock, and buffaloes. Their heavy-set jaws can crush a couple of tons of weight in one go.
The Breeding Habits of Saltwater Crocodiles
Despite their name, the breeding of saltwater crocodiles tends to take place in freshwater areas between the months of November and March. The females lay between 40 and 60 eggs in a homemade nest that combines plant matter and mud.
Where the crocodiles lay their eggs and make their nests can be an indication of how much rainfall is due in the wet season – but this shouldn’t be taken as gospel.
The female croc stays around to guard the nest, splashing it with water to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Over a period of 90 days, the eggs begin to develop and, surprisingly, the sex of the offspring is actually determined by the temperature during the incubation period. If the temperature is below 30 degrees Celsius, the eggs will be female, and above 32 degrees Celsius, they will be male.
When the eggs are ready to hatch, the baby crocodiles start chirping, which encourages the mother to help them out by digging them out of the nest. She then immediately takes them straight to the water’s edge in her mouth, where she watches them until they can feed and look after themselves.