How not to get eaten by a crocodile
Crocodiles are the perfect killing machines. They live in rivers and wetland areas. They are masters of camouflage, and equipped to hear, see and sense you without you ever seeing them. On top of that they are clever, and known to study their preys habits for a couple of days before striking. As we humans slowly move our cities and towns further and further into crocodile territories, we have to deal with them more often. They show up in parks, and live in rivers near popular walking tracks. They do not generally eat people though, and you are only in danger when you come to close to the water and make yourself an easy prey. In Australia, crocodile attacks are very uncommon and there is usually no more than one crocodile fatality per year on average. This is not even comparable to road accidents. The numbers are a bit higher in Africa and Asia, as poorer people often live close to the rivers, and use crocodile waters for their washing and water supplies. Here are some tips to avoid being eaten!
Crocodile hunting techniques
Crocodiles are masters of camouflage. Their eyes, ears and nose are lined up on their head in such a way, these are the only parts visible when they are in the water. And they can submerge for up to two hours. Crocodiles are very clever, because just like a human’s brain, they have a cerebral cortex. This means they can learn, remember, and make plans. They often study their preys habits. If an animal, for example, uses the same spot at the river bank to come and drink every day, the croc will notice and be waiting for it the next day.
Their hearing and eyesight is incredible, and they can sense vibrations in the water or movement on the riverbanks from afar. When they swim under water, they are impossible to spot. What they usually do, is wait at a certain spot, and stay submerged. As soon as the prey is at ease and comes into their range, they lunge themselves out of the water with incredible speed. The prey will not even have time to react and move away. They will drag the prey into the water and if it is not dead yet, they will hold it under water and drown it.
How to avoid being eaten
Always make sure you know when you are in crocodile territory. If so, stay away from the waters edge, and whatever you, do not go into the water for a swim or fishing (or any other reason). In the water they are at their best and quickest. On land they are slower, and only usually go for short walks, and have to rest frequently. They can only move fast for short distances, but they can still jump you.
Especially watch out at night or at dawn, as this is when they are most active. And as your sight decreases in the dark, crocodile’s eyes are perfectly adapted, and they have excellent day and night vision.
Here are some simple guidelines which should keep you safe:
- Never ever swim in crocodile territory! Don’t let you pets (dogs) swim there either.
- Stay away from the river banks and do not go near the water. Try to keep at least 3 metres between you and the water. Do not climb on trees overhanging the water, and do not put up swings over the water. Always keep an eye on your kids, and make sure they are aware of the dangers.
- If you happen to see a crocodile, stay away from it! They may look like they are sleeping, but they will be aware of your presence. Never provoke it by pestering it. Especially stay away from nests, as the mum will always be close by, and will be extra aggressive to protect her young.
- Do not feed crocodiles. This includes getting rid of fish scraps after fishing, or food scraps after cooking. Although this is not intentional feeding, if you do it regularly in the same place, the crocodile will notice. And the next time you show up, it will be waiting for you.
- Stay out of crocodile territory after dawn and dark. This is when they are most active, and they will see you before you see them.
If you adhere to these simple rules, you will not have any problems with crocodiles. So don’t be afraid to go and visit crocodile territory to go for walks. Just make sure you know what you are doing, and ask the locals whether it is ok or not. Always stay on the designated paths, and stay away from the waters edge to avoid crocodile attacks. And you will be fine!
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