Monster Crocs: How Big Can Crocodiles Get?
Could a croc grow as long as 30 feet?
Crocodiles are perhaps the most ferocious creatures on the planet. They can reach humungous proportions and will eat just about anything alive and kicking – including people hapless enough to get in their way. Getting eaten alive by one of these ravenous beasts may be one of the worst ways to go!
Considering the aforementioned unpleasant – though for most people unlikely happenstance – you may ask yourself: How large can these animals grow? Well, you can find out by continuing to read this article!
Natural History of Crocodiles
There are 23 species of crocodiles presently living on planet earth. For the purpose of this article, all members of the order Crocodilia will be included – crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials. These animals first evolved during the Eocene, about 55 million years ago.
Essentially aquatic reptiles, crocodiles have evolved into excellent predators, having long streamlined bodies which can help them move quickly both under water and on land. When on land, the Australian freshwater crocodile can “gallop” up to 11 miles per hour (mph). But most crocodiles use a kind of “belly run,” which can move them seven to 10 mph. And even if its prey stays out of the water, crocodiles can suddenly leap from the depths at speeds up to 30 mph, snatch an animal with its jaws and drag it under water!
They've got plenty of big, sharp teeth as well. The bite of a crocodile has been measured at 5,000 pounds per square inch, making it the strongest bite of any animal on the planet. This truly devastating bite allows some species to attack and kill sharks.
Crocodiles can stay under water for up to two hours at a time, and the larger ones can go up to a year without eating.
As for longevity, it’s been estimated that crocodiles can live up to 70 years, but there have been many reports of crocodiles living well over a hundred years. Dating them is apparently not an exact science. Maybe they never die!
How Big Can These Monsters Get?
The smallest species of crocodile is the West African Dwarf Crocodile, which can grow up to six feet long. The largest crocodiles are the saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus, commonly called salties) found in northern Australia, Southeast Asia and the eastern coastal area of India. Some of these monsters have been measured at over 20 feet and 2,600 pounds. It’s been estimated that many 23-foot saltwater crocodiles exist today.
In fact, historical accounts show that some salties have reached dinosaurian proportions, measuring over 30 feet in length. In 1840 in the Bay of Bengal one such croc was shot and killed and then measured at 33 feet!
As for Nile Crocodiles, which exist throughout central Africa, reports (verifiable and otherwise) have shown these monsters can reach over 20 feet and 2,400 pounds.
At times, only the carcass, the skin or the skulls of crocodiles have been found, and estimates have been made based on this perhaps inconclusive evidence. Understandably, this process can lead to exaggeration. It seems people love to tell you they found one that was even bigger.
A 20-foot crocodile nicknamed Gustave may have killed as many as 300 people on the Ruzizi River in the African country of Burundi. Nobody knows for certain if this apparent man-eater has killed that many people; nevertheless, this Nile crocodile has attained near mythical status. The crocodile may have been spotted as recently as February 2008 by National Geographic.
In September 2011, authorities in the Philippines captured a 21-foot saltwater crocodile, the largest now held in captivity. Coincidentally, it took 21 days to catch this leviathan. Tragically, it may have been responsible for killing a missing fisherman!
As for perhaps the greatest carnage of humans by crocodiles, on February 19, 1945 in the Battle of Ramree Island in Burma, the Japanese army, while retreating through a mangrove swamp, was attacked by thousands of saltwater crocodiles. As many as 400 Japanese soldiers may have died in this disaster!
Monster Crocs in Florida?
Per an online article entitled “Killer Nile Crocodile in Florida? Experts Say It’s Possible,” dated May 19, 2016, animal researchers, including herpetologist Kenneth Krysko, found three Nile crocodiles in the Everglades of Florida in 2012. The sunshine state is home to many invasive species, including the Burmese python, so it wouldn’t be a great stretch of the imagination to think they exist in Florida. These three crocs were genetically identical to the Nile species, which have been known to kill up to 200 people annually in sub-Saharan Africa.
These researchers think Nile crocodile were released into the wilds of Florida, either accidentally or on purpose, and may exist in large numbers in the remote swamps of southern Florida. Of course, American crocodiles exist in Florida, as many wildlife enthusiasts may know, but they are much smaller and have never been known to kill humans.
But Krysko and other animal experts disagree as on whether anymore Nile crocodiles exist in present day Florida. Incidentally, two of those Nile crocs found in Florida live in captivity and the third was euthanized.
Future of the Crocodile
By the 1970s many crocodile species were being over-hunted and pushed toward extinction, and therefore the ones in the wild were generally smaller than 20 feet in length. However, in many parts of the world, particularly the United States, India and Australia, crocodiles (and alligators) are making a comeback. This is good news for them, of course, but in the process crocs are growing big again. Since it’s apparent they may never stop growing, in the coming years and decades we may see salties and other crocs growing up to 30 feet or more.
Are you ready for these monster crocs? If you aren’t – stay away from the water!
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© 2011 Kelley