Animal Diaries Archive
How to stay safe in crocodile territory
24 February 2006Many a patron over the years has come to Australia Zoo and after seeing one of our outstanding CrocsLIVE Shows, has walked away with the perception that you need to be a genius to work alongside crocodiles (or possibly a little nuts).
The truth is, when it comes to working with any of the world's apex predators, the Saltwater Crocodile is the easiest of all animals with which to avoid contact. Staying crocodile safe out in the wild is just as easy. When people come to the Zoo or see a Steve Irwin documentary, they will hear that Saltwater Crocodiles are the masters of camouflage and are an ambush predator. Also we talk about how they hunt and the fact that they like to stay concealed beneath the deep, dark, murky waters until the final moment of attack. This sparks the question of...
"Well how do you avoid being attacked by a predator you can't see?"
The answer is quite simple - stay away from the water's edge.
You see, the crocodile has what is known as a 'strike range', which is the distance they can strike out from the water's edge. They have the ability to strike from the tip of their nose to the base of their back legs from the water's edge. This distance, in fact, is half the crocodile's full body length.
Another question we receive is, "How do we know how far to stay back from the water's edge if we don't know the size of the crocodile?" This is a very good question, so here's what we think you should go by.
The largest recorded Saltwater Crocodile in the world was measured at 23 feet in length (or seven metres). So his strike range (being half his body length) would be 3.5 metres from the water's edge. So just to be safe we recommend that anyone going anywhere near the waterways of northern Australia should stay at least four metres from the water's edge at all times.
Obviously, venturing into the water is also a dangerous thing to do. Never go swimming in crocodile territory, and if you want to go out onto the water and go fishing for instance, make sure you are in a good sized tin boat. Venturing out in rubber truck tire tubes or even in canoes is a very bad idea and could cause some serious trouble.
So keep in mind that from Rockhampton to the tip of Cape York in Queensland, right across the northern parts of Australia and as far west as Broome in Western Australia, crocodiles have been found to live. You should always be mindful of your actions and ideas around waterways located within those areas.
From all the Crocodile Department here at Australia Zoo, stay croc safe and until next time... Crocs RULE!
Our Amazing Saltwater Crocodiles
The saltwater crocodile, also known as the estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles. This apex predator is formidable, opportu ...more
On display in the Crocoseum