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Australian Saltwater Crocodile


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Selection of the most cautious Ones

Pictured on the right is a female guarding her nest. She will be a good mother and do the same for weeks after the hatching of her new ones. The avoidance of breeding areas – which are always in fresh water – and to never get close to small crocodiles, is essential for one’s own security.

It is interesting to consider that the nesting of crocodiles, which means building a nest with plant parts to keep the eggs inside, as well as the active protection of young ones, is unique among reptiles.

The similarity with the behaviour of birds is not an accident, as the crocodile is actually far closer related to birds than to lizards or snakes. This comes due to the astounding fact that the evolutionary brothers of the crocodiles, the dinosaurs, never really faded away completely, as the birds are really descendants of small raptors.  

The life of the very young hatchlings in the free nature can already reveal some significant lessons that will be very important when facing larger crocodiles.

The saltwater crocodile is by far not only a predator during his life. In fact most of the young crocodiles themselves fall prey to birds, reptiles, fish or to other crocodiles in the first stadium of life. Only a few percent of hatchlings will reach the adult age.

When watching the smallest crocodiles for hours, it becomes obvious that there are few variations in the characteristics of the individuals of every breed. Some are very careful and restraint while others behave more like go-getters.

The latter are much easier to recognise, as can be seen in this group of four very small hatchlings, pictured from out of a tree - which could be the position of a hunting bird.

The hatchling in the middle was most active, not only in this moment but all the time, while the one on the right bottom also moved around but seemed to take much more care not to be without cover. It is easy to understand that in the big picture only the very caution ones will stay alive until the age of reproduction.

Having this process for hundreds of million years, one can imagine that the big saltwater crocodiles in the free nature could never be the aggressive monsters people perceive them to be, but rather extremely cautious creatures that would avoid any unpredictable risk.                                              >

               Copyright © Steffen Pichler / ZEIS Verlag