Is It True Crocodiles Are Mating Like Crazy After Hearing Chinook Helicopters Flying By?

Saltwater crocodile on shore
Firepac/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: October 31, 2023

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Crocodiles get turned on by the strangest things! The owner of an Australian crocodile farm, John Lever, already knew that an electrical storm could trigger a mating frenzy in these reptiles. This year, however, something very different is causing romantic vibes in the crocodile pond. The Singapore Armed Forces have been flying their Chinook helicopters over the farm and it’s having a massive effect on the crocodiles. Mr. Lever told a local news channel that he had noticed that after a large Chinook had flown overhead, all of the big males got up and bellowed at the sky. Shortly after that, the mating frenzy began!

Experts are trying to come up with theories for this behavior. Some think that the crocs have mistaken the sound of the helicopter for a competing bull crocodile. Others think that the crocodiles can detect changes in barometric pressure which may have been triggered by the low-flying helicopter. This may have mimicked environmental changes which normally spur the crocs to mate.

How Do Crocodiles Normally Reproduce?

There are two native species of crocodiles in Australia. The saltwater crocodile and the endemic Australian freshwater crocodile. The crocs living on the farm featured in the story are saltwater crocodiles.

We know that saltwater crocodiles breed during the wet season and that falls between November and March. The males mark out their territory and become very defensive. After mating, the female crocodile normally lays anything between 40 and 60 eggs, and these are located in mounded nests made from vegetation and mud. The eggs are buried but they need to be placed quite high because of the flooding that can take place during the wetter months. The female hangs around and protects the eggs which incubate for around 90 days.

How Do Crocodiles Normally Communicate?

Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)

Saltwater crocodile males can make a long, low growl that may sound like a helicopter!

Saltwater crocodiles are considered one of the most intelligent reptiles. They can also be very vocal! They use a bark as a method of communicating with each other, but this can take several forms. One is only used by juveniles – this is a distress call. They also have a hissing or coughing sound which they use when an intruder is nearby. There is a hatchling (baby crocodile) call that is used by newborns and sounds like a short, high-pitched bark. Finally, there is the courtship bellow which is a long, low growl. It is possible that these crocs mistook the roar of the helicopter for this growl. The males may have been panicked by the possible presence of a competitor and decided to get on with mating quickly before they lost the chance!


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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