Crocodile Lifespan: How Long Do Crocodiles Live?

Written by Volia Nikaci
Updated: October 12, 2022
Image Credit PomInOz/Shutterstock.com
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Once at the top of the food chain roughly 100 million years ago. crocodiles are one apex predator most of us hope to never run into unexpectedly. What makes crocodiles so intimidating is the entire structure of their body. With such powerfully built bodies and strong jaws, these reptiles mean business. 

Despite being a species that has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions of years, they are still quite mysterious to us. For starters, did you know that crocodiles can’t actually die of old age? If you’re interested in learning more about the crocodile lifespan and how long they live then continue reading on! 

The Background on Crocodiles

What do Crocodiles Eat?
Crocodiles are carnivores.

A-Z-Animals.com

Crocodiles are semi-aquatic reptiles that inhabit wetlands. They are the largest reptiles on the planet and can be found almost everywhere. Europe is the only continent that they don’t inhabit natively. Since they’re cold-blooded, they’re unable to generate their own heat. That’s why you’ll find them in tropical climates. 

There are 14 different crocodile species on the planet. The smallest species is the Dwarf Crocodile which grows to be around 4.9 feet and weighs between 40 – 71 pounds. In comparison, the largest species, known as the Saltwater Crocodile can grow to be 23 feet and weigh between 2,200 – 2,600 lbs. 

Crocodiles also have the strongest bite in the world! Larger crocodiles are capable of biting down with a force of over 5,000 pounds. Thanks to their powerful bite, they’re able to capture a wide variety of prey. As carnivores, their diet consists mainly of meat.

The Average Crocodile Lifespan

Animals With the Toughest Skin-crocodile
Crocodiles can live up to 75 years.

Audrey Snider-Bell/Shutterstock.com

Crocodiles can live up to 70 years in the wild, with the Saltwater crocodile being the longest living species. However, crocodile lifespans among species range from 25 to 70 years. Crocodiles in captivity have been known to reach 100 years old.

What’s most interesting about crocodiles is that they don’t die of old age. They do not die from biological aging. Instead, they continue to grow and grow until some external factor causes them to die. 

Research conducted by Siddiqui, Ruqaiyyah, et al. “Longevity, cellular senescence and the gut microbiome: lessons to be learned from crocodiles,” explores how a crocodile’s microbiome may influence this antiaging ability. The research conducted found that crocodile serum depicted potent growth inhibitory effects as well as cytotoxic effects against cancer cells investigated. In lamens terms, crocodile gut bacteria may work to inhibit the survival of cancer cells. 

Thanks to this extraordinary anti-aging factor, crocodiles have been often referred to as living fossils. As such an extraordinary reptile, their lifespan is still a mystery. To better understand them, let’s uncover the crocodile life cycle! 

The Crocodile Life Cycle 

Most crocodile species share a similar life cycle. The crocodile life cycle can be broken up into four distinct stages: 

Egg

A female adult crocodile will build one nest per year, depending on her health. She may choose to build one large nest away from predators or she may build a few nests in close proximity to one another. She will then typically lay anywhere between 30-60 eggs. They will then incubate the eggs for the next 80-90 days. The sex of the hatchling crocodiles is affected by the temperature of the nest during the incubation phase.

Hatchlings

Animals That Lay Eggs: Crocodiles
99% of baby crocodiles don’t survive their first year.

Arunee Rodloy/Shutterstock.com

Unfortunately, baby crocodiles do not have a high survival rate. Many of them will not hatch as they fall prey to predators that eat the eggs. Other times, the mother crocodile may lose eggs due to flooding around the nest. Baby crocodiles that have hatched from their egg are called hatchlings. Crocodile mothers will take care of their hatchlings until they are old enough to be out on their own. Hatchlings take a long time to mature, often taking 4 to 15 years.

Young Crocodile  

Young crocodiles need to eat meat to grow. During this stage of the life cycle, they will continue to grow bigger and bigger. They will eventually begin to morph into their adult version over the next few years. For example, the body of an American crocodile is big and lizard-like, with four short legs and a strong muscular tail. Their skin is rough and scaled. Adult American crocodiles are uniformly brown with darker cross-bands on the tail and body, whereas juveniles are dark olive-brown with darker cross-bands on the tail.

Adulthood

Sexual maturity occurs at the age of ten. At this point, the crocodile’s body length is anywhere between 5-10 ft. Adult crocodiles will spend their time hunting for prey throughout the night as they are nocturnal. When they aren’t hunting, they thermoregulate their temperature by alternating between sunning themselves and shading themselves away. 

What Factors Impact the Crocodile’s Lifespan?

As apex predators, crocodiles don’t have many natural enemies in the wild. That means that they don’t have to worry about being attacked by other animals. However, there are other factors that will impact a crocodile’s lifespan. Poachers and hunters will track down crocodiles and kill them for their skin. 

Outside of hunters, there are other major factors to consider. These include habitat degradation and human meddling.

Finally, while crocodiles don’t age biologically, they are still susceptible to the effects of old age. 

As they age, they begin to lose their teeth. Without their teeth, they are unable to hunt and eat. This eventually leads to them dying. They are also susceptible to developing cataracts. This also negatively impacts their hunting abilities. 

Still, according to Crocodiles written by Anne Welsbacher, crocodiles can actually live up to one year without eating. Their body fat can actually provide them with energy for long periods of time. This is thanks to their highly evolved metabolisms. 

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

Volia Nikaci is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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