Crocodiles are large semi-aquatic reptiles. They are among the oldest reptiles; with fossils dating back 65 million years when dinosaurs lived. These prehistoric creatures are apex predators meaning they are at the top of the food chain. They feed on mostly on large mammals, which can be caught while drinking from the water in which the crocodile lives.
Saltwater crocodiles in Australia are the largest crocodiles. They may reach up to 5 metres and usually live into their sixties. It is believed that crocodiles have survived through history so well because of their ability to fight off infections. When crocodiles get into territorial fights they are usually left with open wounds and sometimes even missing limbs. Despite the dirty, murky water, these wounds rarely become infected. Making the crocodile the ultimate survivor.
During the 1970’s in Australia, saltwater crocodiles were almost hunted to extinction. They were hunted mostly for their skin, which is used to make handbags and jackets. Now saltwater crocodiles are a protected species and there are over 100,000 existing in the Northern Territory. While this is a huge improvement for the ecosystem, the increase in crocodile numbers means there is a greater threat to humans living near them Crocodiles are opportunistic feeders, meaning they wouldn’t pass up a human for a quick meal.
The best way to protect crocodiles in the wild as well as humans is to avoid swimming, fishing and camping in areas where crocodiles are likely to be. Being such large creatures crocodiles really are an important part of the ecosystem, so protecting them is crucial.
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