How Long Do Crocodiles Live? Telling The Age Of These Awesome Animals

Supriya Jain
Sep 04, 2023 By Supriya Jain
Originally Published on Nov 09, 2021
Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath
Mugger known as Marsh Crocodile near water.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.2 Min

Crocodiles are known to have roamed the earth for about 80 million years.

Pseudosuchia, which are these animals' ancestors, lived 230 million years ago. You can see why they've been around for centuries with their enormous muscles and size, impressive hunting skills, and social habits.

Because of pseudoscience, some people have been led to believe that these animals (crocodiles) can live forever. Some people think that a crocodile can only die if something severe happens to them.

However, that is not the case. Crocodiles do age, regardless of what you see in horror films.

Like every other ancient creature out there, crocodiles age as well. Their overall body condition starts to deteriorate, and they start to lose their strength. When they reach old age, it doesn't put them in the best position as they struggle to keep their food and territory to themselves as they face competition.

The impressive stamina of a crocodile also decreases, which affects their ability to find a meal for themselves. Let's keep reading this article to explore and learn more about these animals!

After reading about the lifespan of saltwater crocodiles, do check what is a group of crocodiles called and how long do dolphins live?

Different Types Of Crocodiles And Their Lifespans

Crocodiles, caimans, and alligators are many different types of similar animals, and we will be seeing the names of each of them in this article. These are mostly known to originate from Europe, which is the home for 17 out of the 24 species, which also includes Siamese and Cuban crocodiles.

These two species of crocodiles are critically endangered. It is also home to saltwater crocodiles, the most feared crocodiles in the world.

Some of the crocodiles', caimans', and alligators' names are Yacare Caiman, West Africa dwarf crocodile, Tomistoma, Spectacled Caiman, Slender-Snouted Crocodile, Siamese Crocodile, Schneider's Dwarf Caiman, Saltwater Crocodile, Nile Crocodile, Morelet's Crocodile,  Freshwater Crocodile, Cuvier's Caiman, Cuban Crocodile, Chinese Alligator, Broad-Snouted Caiman, Black Caiman, and American Alligator.

It is said that, on average, the lifespan of caimans and alligators is around 30-60 years old. However, the lifespan of a crocodile is 50-75 years old of age on average.

A saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) or Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) may live to as many as 80 years of age; what a long life!

Although their longevity in their habitat and the wild is not very well-known for this species, in captivity, crocodiles live up to the age of 70.

The growth rate of a young croc is an important factor to consider while estimating their life in their natural habitat. The limited studies found on the bone growth rings of a croc suggest that the lifespan of this species in captivity and the wild may be similar in nature.

Nile Crocodile in water.

How long can crocodiles live in captivity?

The average lifespan of crocodiles varies as they are 13 different species present in Africa, Asia, America, and Australia. Crocodiles residing in, for example, Australia may have a different kind of life than those in Asia.

So this species with large jaws grow and live differently with different lifespans. However, there is one major difference between big and small-sized crocodiles. Small crocodiles have a lifespan of only 30-40 years old. It is said that measuring a crocodile's age is quite a tedious task and not as easy as it sounds.

There are numerous techniques out there that can provide the most useful information on the crocodilian form, age, and lifespan. Lamella growth rings are said to be the most commonly used technique to measure this.

The rings are most likely to occur in the teeth and bones of a crocodile. Each year, the range of the teeth and bones of a crocodile grows one new ring, typically seen during wet and dry seasons.

Eventually, the changing of the physical effects of the body of a crocodile causes the life of a croc to fade away.

They start losing their deadly teeth one by one as they age. Crocodiles have a hard time turning and tossing their prey in the water without their canines.

How do you tell a crocodile's age?

Like we discussed earlier, measuring the life and age of a croc may be unreliable, but several different ways can give us an estimate of it. We already learned about the lamellar growth rings technique, where the growth rings in bones and teeth are seen to change in their growth rate, most commonly in the dry and wet seasons.

However, a crocodile is said to have an average lifespan of around 30-40 years. For a larger crocodile species, it is 60-70 years on average. Crocodiles in captivity are said to live for about a century.

The physical traits of a crocodile have made them successful in becoming predators. Their sharp, deadly canines help these predators to catch their prey in water.

Their tongues are seen to be held by a membrane which limits their movement. This results in crocodiles not being able to stick their tongue out. The size of their body differs from crocodile to crocodile and the species they are from.

Longest Living Crocodile On Record

According to fossil evidence, the longest living crocodile to have lived is the Sarcosuchus imperator, which weighed 17,600 lb (7983 kg) and measured 40 ft (12.1 m) long. However, officially, the largest one measured is the Lolong, a seawater crocodile who was said to be 20 ft (6.0 m) and weighed 2,370 lb (1075 kg).

In February 2013, this crocodile, unfortunately, died from congestive heart failure. The longest living crocodile alive is Cassius.

It is about 100 years of age and is from a species of saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). This crocodile is 17 ft long (5.1 m).

Although the family of modern crocodiles living in today's time is quite huge, the ones alive during prehistoric times were much larger in size. Another contender for the oldest living crocodile is Henry from South Africa, who is a 120-years old male saltwater crocodile who has six female companions and is known to have fathered more than 10,000 young.

When it comes to American crocodiles or alligator, the average age span ranges between 30-50 years.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'How long do crocodiles live?' then why not take a look at 'How fast can a crocodile run?', or 'Nile crocodile facts'?

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Written by Supriya Jain

Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Supriya Jain picture

Supriya JainBachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.

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Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

Pratiti Nath picture

Pratiti NathBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

A Master's in Biotechnology from Presidency University and a Bachelor's in Microbiology from Calcutta University. Pratiti holds expertise in writing science and healthcare articles, and their inputs and feedback help writers create insightful content. They have interests in heritage, history, and climate change issues and have written articles for various websites across multiple subjects. Their experience also includes working with eco-friendly startups and climate-related NGOs.

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