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12 Apr 2019 10:22:18
These prehistoric-looking creatures like to hang out in rivers, lakes, billabongs and open ocean. And contrary to their name, they’re mostly found in fresh water. These beautiful beasts can be found right across northern Australia, up through south-east Asia, and as far north as India.
As the world’s largest living reptile, male saltwater crocodiles can reach a whopping 6.5 metres in length, while the females tend to stay under 3 metres and weigh in at a petite 300 kilograms. The ancestors of these ancient beasts have roamed the earth for hundreds of millions of years. Far from fussy eaters, they’ll chow down on nearly any animal they can catch; from insects, fish, crustaceans and amphibians to reptiles, birds and mammals. But incredibly, these carnivores can go a whole year without a meal. And some of these snappy souls can live to over 70 years of age.
Not all saltwater crocodiles are man-hungry monsters. Usually, only large crocs will attempt to take on an adult human; these are referred to as Big Boss Crocodiles. The reality is – horses kill more people in Australia than crocodiles. In any river system, you’ll only find a small number of colossal male crocs, because, by nature, they exclude others from their territory. The term ‘croc-infested waters’ is misleading; there are a lot of crocodiles in the wild, particularly in the NT and WA, but most waterways only host small and medium crocs. As apex predators, these extraordinary reptiles are an integral part of the ecosystem.
While the majority of Crocodilians have bony plates under the scales all over their body, the saltwater crocodile has a lovely soft underbelly. Because of this, this big softy is in demand for its leather. Once heavily hunted, they’ve been protected since the 70s, and we’re happy to say – their numbers in the wild have bounced back.
You can come face-to-face with a massive saltwater crocodile right here in the heart of Sydney. At WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, our resident colossal croc, Rocky, is 4.2 metres long and weighs over 400 kilograms. If you’re curious, feel free to ask his keepers anything you want to know about these burly beasts.
These creatures are amazing; don’t miss your chance to visit one and see them in all their scaly beauty, right here in Darling Harbour.