Crocodiles (crocs) are dominant wetland predators inhabiting Australia’s northern waters. These potentially dangerous reptiles are found in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. Their usual territory stretches north from Broome on the west coast to Rockhampton on the east coast, however sightings have occurred as far south as Carnarvon and Hervey Bay.
Two types of crocodiles exist in Australian waters, the Saltwater Croc (Estuarine), “Salty” and the Freshwater Croc, “Freshy”. The main visual differences are their size and the shape of their snouts. Salties are larger with a broad snout and Freshies have a narrow tapered snout.
Saltwater Crocs (Crocodylus porosus) are the world’s largest of their kind and are extremely dangerous, being potential man-eaters. Average sized males grow to 5 metres and 450 kg (1000 lb) and larger animals have been found. They generally inhabit dark, murky waters in brackish areas (slightly salty) however are also found in salt and freshwater reaches of rivers, floodplains, lagoons, billabongs and coastal waters in Northern Australia. These powerful creatures will attack anything, including enormous Water Buffalo and even humans should the opportunity present.
Freshwater Crocs (Crocodylus johnstoni) are timid and generally keep to themselves. They are not aggressive towards humans unless threatened or tread on. Their average size is 1.5 metres however they can grow up to 3 metres long. Freshies are found in freshwater billabongs, lakes, swamps, rivers and creeks. They feed mainly on fish and small reptiles, amphibians, birds and bats.
Particular caution must be taken when visiting Northern Australia and its croc inhabited waterways. Always be aware around water and do not take any unnecessary risks. Do not ignore warning signs and do not assume the area is safe if there is not a warning sign present.
When boating, avoid entering the water when launching and retrieving your vessel and do not lean over the edge or hang any body parts over the side of the boat.
Keep back from the water’s edge when fishing
and always watch for crocs. Avoid constantly fishing from the same spot and never throw fish offal into the water.
Camp at least 50 metres from the water’s edge and never wash dishes or clean fish in or near the water. Dispose of all food scraps, bait and fish offal thoughtfully and never leave any at your campsite.
Above all, do not swim in crocodile country and remember any waterways unsafe for you are also unsafe for your pet so keep them under control and well away from the water. Heed warning signs and only swim in safe designated areas.
One or two fatal croc attacks are reported on average in Australia each year. So please be careful and avoid being one of those unwanted statistics. Stay safe in crocodile country.
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