The Saltwater Crocodile

What's the largest living reptile in the world?

And the answer: saltwater crocodile.

Photo credit: Discoverwildlife.com

Some saltwater crocodiles are 23 feet in length and weigh over a ton. They can be found in India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia, where they're known as "salties."

Before running for your life, fear not: though the saltwater crocodile proudly boasts the most powerful bite in the animal kingdom, these large reptiles usually stay away from humankind. These fearsome predators turn mostly to large land animals for their dinner, ranging anywhere from crabs and fish to birds, turtles, pigs, or buffalo. Saltwater crocodiles have inhabited brackish and freshwater regions of eastern India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia for millions of years (their first appearance was around 240 million years ago, in the Mesozoic era – that predates some dinosaurs!).

To hunt, the "saltie" poses near the shoreline, remaining virtually invisible just at the water's edge, lurking underwater for up to an hour. When potential prey leans down to the water to drink, SNAP! The saltwater croc acts quickly, and with a mouthful of 5-inch teeth, these predators don't shoot to miss. Interestingly, they've also coined an attack method amicably called the "death roll" – the croc pulls its prey underwater and spins to disorient it (maybe the world's worst swirly).

Saltwater crocodiles have a lifespan that can reach up to 70 or 80 years. After facing threats to their population in the early 1960s from hunting by humans, these prehistoric creatures have made a comeback to last the ages. Check out the video below to learn more, and see these impressive hunters in action.


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