62 Interesting Facts About Crocodiles

Last updated on May 6th, 2023

52. Mothers Don’t Eat Their Babies

A long time ago, people believed that crocodiles ate their babies because they were often spotted with hatchlings in their mouths.

The truth is that mothers never eat their babies and put the hatchlings in their mouths to take them to water.

Although a mother crocodile won’t eat her babies, other crocodiles will. This is why mothers don’t let their babies go off on their own until they’re at least a year old.

53. Crocodiles Aren’t Bulletproof

Crocodiles have very thick skin, and some people believe it’s bulletproof, and this is actually a myth, and a crocodile can die from a gunshot.

54. Some Crocodiles Feed On Large Animals

Most crocodiles feed on fish and smaller animals; however, the Nile crocodile and saltwater crocodile prey on large animals. They’re capable of preying upon larger animals, such as big cats, sharks, hippos, and small elephants.

55. They Can Sleep With One Eye Open

A Philippine Crocodile for the crocodile fact file
Interesting crocodile facts: a Philippine Crocodile. Photo © Poeticpenguin

Crocodiles often sleep with both eyes closed, but they can sleep with one eye open. Most animals cannot do this, and just a few reptiles, birds, and dolphins have this ability. They’ll sleep with one eye open if they feel there could be danger nearby but prefer sleeping with both eyes closed. This among other crocodile facts could be the one that you can share with your friends and family. 

56. Aggression During Mating Season

Crocodiles are aggressive by nature and are even more aggressive during mating season. They often mate during monsoons and are more dangerous to humans and their prey.

Crocodile courtship illustrates reptile romance. They rub snouts, blow bubbles, and stroke each other’s backs. Pairs that hit it off move to the water, mating several times over a few days to ensure fertilization. However, the extended honeymoon is no guarantee of exclusivity.

57. You Can Hold a Crocodile’s Mouth Shut

We can hold crocodiles’ mouths shut with our hands, which sounds strange because they have one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom.

We can hold their mouths open because the muscles that allow crocodiles to open their mouths are very weak, and the muscle that closes their mouths are powerful.

Many crocodile wranglers grab these creatures by the mouth to prevent being bitten, but it’s not recommended without years of training.

58. The Mothers Are Attentive

When the mother lays her eggs, she keeps them hidden and close by. When the eggs hatch, the mother doesn’t abandon them. She will stay with her babies for at least the first year of their lives to teach them to hunt and care for themselves in the wild.

59. They Can Get Out of the Water Quickly

If you see a crocodile in the water, you aren’t safe. This is because this creature can shoot out from the water at incredible speeds.

They use their hind legs to give them a quick thrust, and their muscular tails take over to get them out of the water.

Most crocodiles can jump out of the water at a speed of 12 meters per second, allowing them to attack quickly, so it’s best to get away as soon as possible.

60. Crocodiles and Territories

Crocs are gracious hosts. They share food and basking spots with others – except for saltwater crocodiles. Mature males mark and defend their territories, driving off rivals from their female companions. It’s a bloody war for life and love for the salties.

61. People versus Crocodiles

Humans and crocodiles don’t mix. Tensions rise when settlements get too close to reptilian territory. Sensing threats, the creatures may attack people to scare them off. Clashes can be deadly, and communities may retaliate through hunting.

62. Crocodile Population Decline

Crocodiles are in danger. Hunters sell their leather, developers destroy their natural habitats, and settlers cull them out of fear. But it’s not all bleak, as some species are in recovery thanks to government protection and community education.

Now that we have listed crocodile facts, you can further read facts about the Nile and saltwater crocodile.

The Nile Crocodile

African Giants

Imagine a reptile that weighs 1,650 lbs and stretches 20 ft. That’s the maximum size of the Nile crocodile, an African giant that lives around the Nile Basin, sub-Saharan Africa, and Madagascar. You can see them hunting in rivers, mangroves, and freshwater marshes.

Body Markings

Nile crocodile eyes up close. Looking beautiful, isn't it?
Interesting facts about crocodiles. Photo © Zzvet

Young Nile crocs are grey or brown. They develop a dark bronze shade as they grow older. You will see green eyes up close. There are also faded black spots and stripes across their backs. Meanwhile, their bellies turn from yellow-green to a dingy off-yellow over time.

Tug-of-War versus Big Cats

When food is abundant, predators avoid stress and happily hunt in their territories. When food is scarce, lions and Nile crocodiles may fight over carcass. They engage in a literal tug-of-war with equal chances of success. Intimidation can help win the loot and avoid bloodshed.

Social Hierarchy

Nile crocodiles don’t mind having company. They share resources like basking spots, big carcasses, and schools of fish. However, they need to follow a strict social hierarchy. The size determines rank, so large males tend to get the first crack on food. Anyone who breaks the rules endures violent punishment.

Indiscriminate Eaters

Blue wildebeest attacked by a crocodile. Crocodile hunting skills displayed
Photo © Sergey Uryadnikov

Everything looks tasty for the Nile crocodile. It loves eating fish but won’t say no to birds, porcupines, and other small animals near the water. Adults are powerful enough to take down large mammals like zebras, hippos, wildebeest, and water buffalos. Even dead animals are on their radar.

Master of Being Motionless

Despite their fearsome reputation, Nile crocodiles are generally calm and inert. They love to bask in the sun from morning to afternoon, barely moving an inch. Their jaws remain open to cool down and, perhaps, to threaten others to leave them alone.

Avian Dental Cleaners

As the crocodiles bask, brave birds may drop by and come close. They pick scraps of meat from the teeth like a dental cleaning service. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus claimed that some birds enter the mouth and get the leeches tormenting the crocodiles.

Male Mating Rituals

Male Nile crocodiles get noisy when they want female attention. They splash, bellow, grunt, and growl. Sometimes ladies do not get the hint. In that case, males will make a bigger spectacle. They inhale, submerge their snout, and blow water through the nostrils like a spray fountain.

Devoted Parents

Nile Crocodile hatchlings. Image for facts about crocodiles
Crocodile facts: the Nile Crocodile hatchlings. Photo © Tjkphotography

Female crocodiles lay eggs two months after mating. They choose a nest site near the water and dig a hole in the soil or sand. The devoted parents guard the eggs for three months. They will not budge even if you throw stones at them. They know that lizards are nearby, waiting for a chance to get their eggs. Females may urinate to keep the soil moist and prevent hardening.

Crocodile Daycare

In sites with multiple nests, the mothers may decide to take care of their young together. Lions also exhibit this behavior in groups, allowing some females to hunt while others stay back for nursing duties. Young crocs avoid predators by hunting in the dark, usually eating lots of insects on land.

Crocodile Survival Technique

In most cases, the Nile crocodile will only dive for a few minutes. If they feel threatened, they may swim underwater for half an hour to move away undetected. If they stay perfectly still, they can hold their breath for up to two hours.

African Crocodiles in America

Florida is wary about alien invaders. No, not creatures from another planet, but foreign species threatening local wildlife. In the 1980s, the Burmese python bred quickly in the Everglades. In 2016, a DNA test confirmed that they have stray Nile crocodiles, probably brought by illegal traders. Scientists are closely monitoring the situation.

The Saltwater Crocodile

Largest Living Reptile

Saltwater crocodile lying near to a water source.
Interesting facts about crocodiles. Photo © Mikhail Blajenov

It’s the king of the crocs! The saltwater crocodile is the largest of its kind, with the average male weighing 1,000 lbs and reaching 17 ft. The biggest ones may be more than 2,200 lbs and measure longer than 23 ft.

Natural Habitat

You can find these from India to Australia, with Aussies affectionately calling them “salties.” Despite the name, they can inhabit freshwater and brackish regions. What sets them apart is their tendency to swim far out at sea. Athletic? Hardly. Smart? Yes! They float to conserve energy and let currents move them.

Regular Diet

Saltwater crocodiles have a lot of food options. They can prey on dugongs, sea turtles, bony fishes, rays, and small sharks. Near land, they hunt mouse deer, hog deer, macaques, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, wallabies, hares, flying foxes, badgers, and otters.

Poison Resistance

Poisonous toads have fatal toxins. These can take down large animals like freshwater crocodiles. Lucky for saltwater crocs, they are partly immune to the poison. They should be fine for as long as they do not eat an excessive amount of toads.

A Warm Nesting Site

Saltwater crocodiles mate in the wet season, and females lay eggs around two months later. Each clutch has about 40 to 60 eggs. They make a warm nest using plant matter and mud on river banks.

Body Markings

Rusty Crocodile. Image for crocodile fact file
Crocodile facts: the saltwater crocodile at Daintree River, Queensland, Australia. Photo © Hubkp0a1

Young salties start with a pale-yellow body with black stripes and spots. Once they become adults, they take on a dark green shade with regions of tan and grey. A few may remain pale, while others can develop such dark skin that they almost look black.

Decline and Revival

Saltwater crocodiles are survivors. They almost went extinct due to the hunting frenzy in the 1960s, with their skin fetching high prices. Better law enforcement allowed their population to bounce back. However, habitat loss remains a challenge.

Rain Prediction

Crocodile nest locations may predict future rainfall volume. Locals assume that the animals would put their eggs in safe spots. Sometimes they get it right, and most eggs survive. At other times, the nests suffer from flooding along with the embryos.

Sexual Dimorphism

In Nile crocodiles, males are generally 30% bigger than females. In saltwater crocodiles, there is a wider gap. Males are 4-5 times as large as females, possibly because they need bigger bodies for territorial defense.

Small Beginnings

Put all the hatchlings together, and you wouldn’t have a clue. Nile and saltwater crocodiles start at roughly the same size. They both have an average length of about 28 cm and a weight of 71 g. However, saltwater crocs outpace growth by adulthood.

Croc Head

Saltwater crocodile head
The Saltwater crocodile. Photo © Attila Jandi

The average weight of an adult American man? Around 200 lbs. The average weight of a saltwater croc’s head? Around 200 kg or 440 lbs, thanks to the muscles and tendons responsible for its big bite. Meanwhile, the longest tooth is 9 cm or 3.5 inches long.

“So Long, Lolong!”

Lolong made it to record books as the most massive crocodile ever caught and placed in captivity. He was captured in 2011 after two lethal attacks agitated the locals. He spent the rest of his life at the Davao Crocodile Park in the Philippines, where tourists flocked to see his 6.17 m, 1,075 kg frame.

Anti-social Crocodiles

Unlike Nile crocodiles, saltwater crocodiles want to keep all food and resources. They are highly territorial from Day 1, with hatchlings fighting their siblings. They don’t even tolerate their own kind, with one predictable exception: adult males don’t mind sharing territory with females.