Crocodile Attacks! How Common are they?

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: March 18, 2022
© PomInOz/Shutterstock.com
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Crocodiles are fierce creatures with rows of razor-sharp teeth (80 to be exact) and powerful jaws. They wait underwater at the water’s edge for unsuspecting prey to stop for a quick drink. With their muscular tails, they thrust themselves out of the water, jaws open, and chomp down, dragging the prey back into the water. With a “death roll,” the crocodile flips the prey over and over until it drowns. Then the crocodile uses its teeth to rip parts of the prey apart and swallow the chunks whole. If the prey in this scenario is human, you can imagine why people are scared of crocodiles. Most attacks happen in remote areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Let’s find out about crocodile attacks and how common they are!

How common are crocodile attacks?

Bull shark facts - crocodile vs bull shark
There are around 1,000 fatal crocodile attacks each year in the world.

©Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.com

It is difficult to document how many crocodile attacks happen each year due to the number that happens in remote areas and is unreported (for this article we are looking at all the animals in the crocodile family including alligators). Based on research, there are around 1,000 crocodile attacks a year that result in death. Numbers are probably much higher based on the number of crocodiles that occur in Africa and Southeast Asia. In Australia, researchers kept detailed records of crocodile attacks and found that between 1971-2004 (a period of 33 years) there were 62 definite, unprovoked attacks, 17 of which were fatal. That averages out to 1.9 attacks each year in Australia.

Where are crocodile attacks most common?

Most crocodile attacks occur in sub-Saharan Africa. There are large concentrations of aggressive Nile crocodiles along major waterways that thousands of people use daily. When there is a high concentration of people and crocodiles, there is an increased chance of animal-human conflict. There are 0 crocodile attacks in Canada because there are no crocodiles in Canada. We do have the American alligator and American crocodile in the United States, but the number of crocodile attacks is extremely low because as an industrial nation we do not have thousands of people washing clothes and gathering water in the local waterways like Africa. Australia has a large population of crocodiles but as the research noted, there are only an average of 1.9 attacks a year.

Are there any crocodile attacks in the United States?

There have not been any reported crocodile attacks in the US, but there have been alligator attacks, one of the species of crocodiles. In the United States, there have been 376 alligator attacks between 1948-2004 (56-year period) which average out to 6.7 attacks per year. Of those, only 23 were fatal so that averages out to .4 fatalities a year which is far less than Australia’s 1.9 fatalities per year.

Which state has the most attacks?

Florida reported the most attacks (and also has the largest alligator population in the US). There were 334 attacks between 1948-2004 with 14 fatalities. Texas was second with 15 attacks and Georgia and South Carolina tied for third with 9 attacks each.

What are the deadliest crocodiles?

Heaviest Animals: Saltwater Crocodile
Saltwater Crocodiles are the largest crocodile species and one of the deadliest.

©PomInOz/Shutterstock.com

The Nile and Saltwater crocodiles are the deadliest. They are the largest crocodile species and the most aggressive. They also occur in the most remote areas and around large populations of people using the same waterways that they live in.

  • Saltwater crocodile: Saltwater crocodiles can grow to be 20-23 ft with the average size being 16 ft long. They are documented to be the deadliest, but it is likely that more people are killed by Nile crocodiles but are undocumented.
  • Nile crocodile: Nile crocodiles can grow to be 16 ft long with the average being 11 ft. Statistically, Nile crocodile attacks end with more fatalities.
  • Mugger crocodile: Mugger crocodiles are a little smaller than Nile crocodiles at an average of 13-16 feet. They are located in much of India, the southern part of Pakistan, and parts of Iran and Sri Lanka. According to CrocBITE, there were 110 attacks 2008-2013 (5 years) with 36 of those being fatal. That is an average of 22 attacks a year and 7.2 fatalities.

How do people get attacked by alligators?

There is usually a distinction made between provoked and unprovoked attacks when it comes to animal-human conflict. Researchers that study the alligator attacks in Florida keep detailed records and found that of the 305 attacks, they had records on 53 of those being on people “Attempting to capture/pick up/exhibit” an alligator! The Australian study found that 81% of the attack victims were either swimming, wading, or at the water’s edge. Research on the Nile crocodile showed that 55.3% of the victims were swimming, bathing, or crossing the river with cattle. A situation where you have to cross a river with your cattle to insure the livelihood of your family is very different than trying to catch an alligator for an epic selfie.

Why do crocodiles attack?

Freshwater crocodile hatching, poke their head out of the egg in hatchery room at crocodile farm.
Mother crocodiles may attack if they think their nests or babies are in danger.

©Arunee Rodloy/Shutterstock.com

Besides not wanting to be caught, crocodiles can attack for a variety of reasons including:

  • Defend their nest or babies
  • Defend their territory
  • For food
  • Mistaken identity
  • To protect itself

When was the last crocodile attack in the world?

On March 15, 2022, a man that was spearfishing in the Northern Territory, Australia was attacked by a crocodile. The new report said he suffered wounds to his arm and leg but the wounds were not life-threatening. He was fishing in a remote area at 4 in the morning, so definitely increasing his odds of being attacked vs shopping at the local Woolworths!

When was the last alligator attack in the US?

On August 30, 2021, in Louisiana, a 71-year-old man was attacked and killed by a 12 ft, 500 lb alligator. It happened a day after Hurricane Ida. The man was checking on the damage when he was attacked and got swept up in the flood waters. Two weeks later, authorities found an alligator that matched the description and killed it, finding human remains in its stomach.

Are crocodile attacks or shark attacks more common?

Crocodiles attacks are more common than shark attacks…and more deadly!

©A-Z-Animals.com

Crocodile attacks are more common than shark attacks. There are about 1,000 crocodile-related fatalities a year and only an average of 10 shark fatalities. In countries where people have to risk their lives to survive, the authorities work to keep people safe with education programs like teaching young boys, one of the most common victims, safety tips for being in and around water. In the US, unless you decide to “attempt to capture” a crocodile, you should be pretty safe.


The Featured Image

Heaviest Animals: Saltwater Crocodile
A huge Saltwater Crocodile basks in the hot Australian sun. Saltwater crocodiles are the largest crocodile species and also the largest living reptile in the world.
© PomInOz/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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