The Australian freshwater crocodile (Scientific name: Crocodylus johnstoni), is a type of wild, freshwater crocodile, whose distribution is endemic to Australia. It has a smaller body than its saltwater counterpart, and is not a known man-eater unlike them, making it less dangerous towards humans. The freshwater crocodile population can be found wallowing in their preferred habitat, freshwater swamps, wetlands, and shallow creeks and rivers, feeding on small animals in order to supplement their carnivorous diet.
Australian freshwater crocodiles are smaller, shyer, and less aggressive than the Australian saltwater crocodiles, and are mostly found living inland rather than along the coast. However, these reptiles are still known predators, using their long, sharp teeth to snatch their prey into their jaws.
The Australian freshwater crocodile is a type of freshwater crocodile residing in northern and western Australia and Queensland.
Like all crocodiles, the Australian freshwater crocodile belongs to the Reptilia class.
The current estimated population of these crocodiles is about 100,000 individuals in the wild.
The freshie population can mostly be found in wetlands around northern Australia, western Australia, and Queensland. They are found living abundantly in and around the Kakadu National Park, which is a World Heritage Site.
This crocodile can be found wallowing in its preferred habitat of freshwater rivers, streams, wetlands, and swamps. It can withstand harsh, arid conditions, which are prevalent around central Australia.
These reptiles are pretty social, and can often be found basking in swamps in groups. They get along well except during the breeding season when males become aggressive towards each other.
The Australian freshwater crocodile lifespan is known to be 40-60 years. Their individual lifespans depend on how much prey is available to them in their habitat.
The breeding season for these reptiles occurs between July and October when the male will court the female in order to breed with her. Males and females will then mate in the water, after which the female will dig a nest in a nearby sandbank and lay her eggs. These nests are usually left undefended, and many eggs are eaten by predators during the incubation period. Around one to five days before hatching, the hatchlings will call out from inside the eggs, prompting any nearby females to dig out the sandbank. Once they hatch, the young hatchlings are transported from the nest to the water by the females with their mouths.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, Australian freshwater crocodiles are considered to be of Least Concern when it comes to any threat of endangerment, being abundantly available in their habitat.
The Australian freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) has a medium-sized, light brown body with darker bands around its main body and tail. This muddy color helps the crocodile to camouflage well among the swamps and shallow water in rivers, making it easy for it to catch small prey. It has hard, armored scales on its back with smaller scales covering its legs and underbelly. Its head is thin and long, with its teeth being very sharp and evenly sized.
With their razor-sharp teeth and beady eyes, these freshwater crocodiles are more scary than cute! They are very ungainly when they move, and make a series of grunts and growls which makes them look very unapproachable. However, when compared to other types of crocodiles, their smaller size and slender snout can make them look cuter in comparison.
This crocodile conveys its intentions with a series of sounds such as grunts, bellows, and growls. Differences in tone, patterns, and loudness can also convey different meanings such as warnings of nearby threats, sighting of food, mating calls, etc.
Male freshies are usually 7.5-9.8 ft (2.3-3 m) in length from head to tail, with females being slightly smaller at 6.9 ft (2.1 m) in length. This makes them around the same length as a horse, which means they are pretty big!
The Australian freshwater crocodile is a very fast swimmer and can swim up to speeds of 12.4 mph (20 kph).
Despite being smaller than their saltwater counterparts, these crocodiles are still quite heavy, with males weighing in at about 154.3-220.4 lb (70-100 kg), with the females weighing much less at around 88 lb (40 kg).
Female crocodiles are called cows, and males are called bulls.
Baby crocodiles are called hatchlings.
These crocodiles, being predators, follow a carnivorous diet. They will normally feed on small prey such as insects, lizards, snakes, birds, fish, and crustaceans. In order to hunt their prey, they lie still in wait until the unwary animal approaches. Then with tremendous speed, they snap their head sideways and trap the animal in their razor-sharp teeth, leaving them helpless. Sometimes they are also able to capture larger prey this way, such as unsuspecting wallabies.
These crocodiles are not man-eaters, their diet mainly consisting of insects and animals only. However, they will still attack humans if provoked. This crocodile is usually very shy and will not approach humans on its own, however, there have been incidents of people being bitten while unknowingly swimming in crocodile-infested waters. Though they are not a venomous species and are not as blood-thirsty as saltwater crocodiles, their teeth are still very sharp and their bite can cause deep wounds, which are very painful. They might not kill you, but their bite will be painful.
No, since crocodiles are wild and unpredictable animals it is not feasible to keep them as pets in the house. Some species of crocodile, including the Australian freshwater crocodile, can be tamed to some extent, but can only be done so in zoos and sanctuaries. They are very high maintenance, due to needing large amounts of food. They also cannot feel emotion, hence it is impossible to form a bond with them, which is vital for any pet lover. Also, their bite can cause a lot of damage to humans, so it is best to stay away.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
They are also called Johnstone's crocodile, after Robert Arthur Johnstone, a British officer credited with the colonial expansion of Australia.
They are also affectionately called 'freshies' by Australians.
It is the fastest crocodile on land, being able to run up to 10.6 mph (17 kph).
Despite their small size and alligator-like snouts, freshies are not alligators. Crocodile teeth are still visible when their snouts or mouth are closed, whereas alligator teeth become hidden from view once their mouth is closed.
Young hatchlings are often assisted out of their eggs by adults, who chew the shell gently with their teeth to make it easier for the young crocodiles to break out of the eggs.
In some areas, the distribution of freshwater and saltwater crocodiles can overlap near tidal rivers and tributaries.
Animals such as feral pigs may steal crocodile eggs from their nest, as the nest is often left unprotected after the female lays the eggs.
The sex of freshwater crocodiles depends on the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. A temperature of 89.6 °F (32 °C) will yield male crocodiles, whereas any temperature lower or higher than this will give rise to female crocodiles being born.
These crocodiles have a long and slender head and snout, with their sharp teeth being visible even when it is closed. They have around 68-72 pointed teeth along their jaws, which are sharp enough to bite off an arm or leg with enough pressure. These sharp teeth help them to pierce and trap small animals in their snout.
An Australian freshwater crocodile has been known to lay around four to 30 eggs in their nest at a time, however many of these get snatched and eaten by predators such as feral pigs.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these saltwater crocodile interesting facts and Cuban crocodile surprising facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Australian freshwater crocodile coloring pages.