Saltwater Crocodile

Saltwater Crocodile

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About Crocodiles

Crocodiles are reptiles that are closely related to alligators, caimans, gharials and false gharials. These are collectively known as crocodilians and they are medium to large predators. There are about 25 species of crocodilians in the world. Singapore is home to only one species and it is the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). They are also referred to as salties or estuarine crocodile.

Saltwater crocodiles have been documented from the Indian sub-continent, through South-east Asia and the northern coastline of Australia, to as far east as Fiji. The average length of females are between 2.5m to 3m, while males are 4.5m to 5m. It is rare for them to grow beyond that. They are territorial creatures. Big males will chase away other males, while allowing females to stay in their area. Even though they are called saltwater crocodiles, they have been documented to prefer a more freshwater environment, with females nesting next to freshwater bodies only.

Historically, crocodiles have been sighted in just about every area of Singapore, including many of our rivers. Today, they are mostly spotted in the Straits of Johor. They are known ambush hunters but are also opportunistic feeders that will eat carrion. They can be surprisingly fast dashing out of the water to catch prey on embankments. Some examples of prey they have been documented hunting in Singapore include frogs, birds, squirrels, monitor lizards, snakes, otters and horseshoe crabs, but mostly they feed on fish, dead or live.

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Saltwater crocodile (Photo: Kelvin Leong)

Did you know?

  • Crocodiles have little sensory points throughout their body with a higher concentration on the sides of the head. They can sense their surroundings with their integumentary sense organ or ISO, which may direct them to a potential prey or an approaching threat like a larger crocodile.

  • Singapore had a small southern island called Pulau Buaya (Crocodile Island in Malay). In 2010, Pulau Buaya officially became part of what is now known as Jurong Island. A search on Google Maps will show you the location of Pulau Buaya!

Do's and Don'ts

What should I do if I am in a habitat where crocodiles can be found?

  • If on land, do stay on designated paths and keep away from the water's edge.

  • Do not enter the water.

  • If near or in waters, do keep a lookout and keep away if you spot a crocodile.

What should I do if I encounter a crocodile?

  • Do stay calm and back away.

  • Do not approach, provoke or feed the crocodile.

  • Call the NParks’ 24-hr Animal Response Centre at 1800-476-1600.