The Forgotten Slayer from the Sea

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Sharks might be the most terrifying creature in the deep blue sea. There was still another similar terrifying creature in the saltwater that often goes unnoticed. It has been estimated that about 1000 people are killed by this creature every year.

If you are having fun at tidal rivers, coastal floodplains, coastal channels, billabongs, and swampy areas in the deep tropical regions, watch out for the estuarine crocodile.

This largest living reptile can grow up to 5-6 m in length and weigh upwards of 500 kg. They have thick skin lined with bony plates that go down to their clawed webbed feet. Adding to this is a huge proportion of muscle across its body down to its tail, making it the most powerful armored tank from 200 million years ago.

Let’s dive deeper into this terrifying creature.

The calm before the storm

Estuarine crocodiles always move slowly in the water and will charge upon their prey from the silent cover of water, eating anything they can get their jaws on. They use their powerful jaws to bite into their prey as they rotate their body sideways whilst holding their prey underwater, drowning them to their end.

Greatest bite of all

Estuarine crocodiles are believed to have the greatest bite pressure of all living creatures, as strong as that of a T-Rex. The jaw muscles of a 4.6 m estuarine crocodile can generate 2 tons of pressure, which is enough to punch a hole through a metal plate.

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Temperature matters to them

Estuarine crocodiles are ectotherms. Hence, they regulate their body temperature by continuously moving in and out of the water. Other behaviors such as basking, shade seeking, and mouth-gaping are used to regulate their body temperature when out of the water.

A place with an ambient temperature of 35°C like a muddy swamp or riverside with plenty of sunlight becomes their go-to habitat.

Temperature determines them

The males become extroverted towards the females during their mating season in late October till June. Rival males fight it out amongst the “bask” with the intent of mating with a female crocodile. Interestingly, the sex of an estuarine crocodile is determined by the temperature inside the egg during gestation. Temperatures in the range of 31-33°C led to males, and anything lower leads to females.

Never heard them talk

Crocodiles scarcely made any noise at all. Perhaps you are wondering if they even communicate.

Although they did produce low rumbling growls, they mostly communicate by visual and chemical signals. A body posture such as raising the snout is to signal submission, and tail-arching is to signal threat.

Need not mention about dangerous.

With their silent moving, quick charging and 2 tons of bite pressure, human has no chance at all. Crocodiles are territorial animals, and an invasion isn’t received kindly. So, it is best to keep a distance and proceed with caution as these crocodiles can lurk in the shallowest of water unseen.

Luckiest species

According to the IUCN Red List status assessed in 2019, estuarine crocodiles are least concerned for extinction, with approximately 500,000 individuals still in the wild. However, due to their valuable hide, these crocodiles remain targeted by poachers.

Written by Hamzah Rajput (INTI International University)