Crocodiles at Darwin, Australia

The saltwater crocodiles found throughout the north of Australia and very large, very fierce and very dangerous. They can grow up to 5 meters in length and can move extremely quickly. They are much more dangerous than the alligators found in the American swamps.

Perhaps the easiest way to tell and croc from a 'gator is by the teeth. The canine teeth on a crocodile overlap the outside of the other jaw, whereas the teeth on an alligator fit into sockets in the opposing jaw.

The crocodiles like to lurk at or near the surface, waiting for any passing prey. What may appear to be a floating log, often turns out to be a big and hungry crocodile.
Some times they lurk with just the eyes and nose showing. They are sniffing and watching for you to venture a bit closer.

Despite their size, the saltwater crocodiles can move with surprising speed and agility. They can jump out of the water for almost their entire body length if they spot a suitably tasty morsel. Similarly, if they see some suitable prey on the bank of the river or pond, they can leap out of the water with terrifying speed.

On land they cannot move quite as quickly, but can outrun most people. The perceived wisdom, if being chased by a crocodile on land, is to ensure that you can run faster than your friend.

The saltwater crocodiles are not limited to the sea or brackish water, but can and do venture into freshwater. They sometimes venture far out to sea, and they have been monitored swimming in excess of a thousand kilometers offshore. They can survive in saltwater because they have a series of glands in their tongues, which allow them to excrete the excess salt from their bodies. Without such glands, osmosis would cause their bodies to become dehydrated as salt built up in their systems.
The freshwater crocodiles, or "Freshies" in Australian, cannot venture into the salt water as they lack these glands. They tend to be much smaller and have narrower, more pointed jaws. Although they are not as fearsome as their saltwater cousins, they are still to be treated with utmost caution.

The "freshies" seem to like to bask on the bank, whether this is to better spot prey or just to "catch a few rays" I do not know. This one was obviously not too hungry as he was not interested in the passing turtle.

This one looked to be the most contented crocodile in the entire known universe. I suspect he was taking his after lunch nap, maybe using his girlfriend as a pillow?

In years gone by, the crocodiles were hunted to dangerously low levels. They were then tightly protected for a number of years. Now they are farmed under licence and these ones are destined to become handbags and crocodile steaks.

When I visited the centre, in their cafeteria, I had a crocodile pasty for lunch. Yum!

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