- The largest live crocodile on record was caught in 2011 in the Philippines.
- Scientists recognize a few factors that played a role in his massive size, such as warm weather, sex, and age.
- Like with many other species, male crocodiles naturally grow larger than females.
Crocodiles are large reptiles with a lifespan of 35 to 75 years, with many much older. During that time, they can grow over 20 feet long and weigh over a ton! They are aggressive carnivores, munching on birds, mammals, and fish.
Crocodiles have the strongest bite of any animal in the world. Their jaws can apply 5,000 pounds of pressure when they chomp down on prey. This is 50 times stronger than a human jaw, and slightly stronger than an average great white shark‘s bite. Along with their massive size and strength, crocodiles are speedy swimmers, maxing out at over 20 mph in the water.
Lolong, The Largest Crocodile
The largest live crocodile on record was caught in 2011 in the Philippines. He was hunted for three weeks after the killing of a fisherman. It was also suspected that he was responsible for the death of a 12-year-old girl who had been found beheaded two years prior.
Once found, the crocodile was named ‘Lolong’ after a local hunter, Ernesto “Lolong” Conate, who died from a stroke while helping plan his capture. Lolong was placed in Bunawan Eco-Park in the Philippines. He weighed 2,370 pounds.
The most exceptional thing about Lolong was his length, which broke the world record for the longest saltwater crocodile in captivity at 20 ft 3 in.
He quickly became the main star of Bunawan Eco-Park, attracting thousands of visitors eager to see the massive reptile.
How Do Crocodiles Grow So Big?
So how does a crocodile grow as large as Lolong? Scientists recognize a few factors that played a role in his massive size, such as warm weather, sex, and age.
The country’s consistently warm weather and few cold spells can be a contributing factor to the size of Lolong. The Philippines is a warm country, averaging 80°F for most of the year. It is usually very humid and experiences regular rain. The warm and humid weather ensures that there is prey year-round for these reptiles. It also means that the environment is generally wet, so there is a large territory for them to roam and live in.
Like with many other species, male crocodiles naturally grow larger than females. The reason for this is likely because males are more territorial and need to be larger for fights and defensive purposes.
Crocodile Age And Abilities
For a long time, crocodiles were thought of as having indeterminate growth, meaning they would continue to grow for as long as they lived. After a bit more research, this has been debated, but it is clear that older crocodiles are generally larger. They may slow down in growth or stop growing when they are older or become sick. However, they generally continue to grow throughout their entire lives. This is proven by fossils that have been found of extinct crocodile species that were over 33 feet in length!
An interesting feature of crocodiles is that they don’t appear to deteriorate with age. This means that crocodiles usually only die due to injury or sickness. While crocodiles are commonly thought to have a 70-year lifespan, some scientists argue that their lifespan has no limit. However, most crocodiles are not able to live to the full extent of their lifespans because of human intervention or other problems.
Crocodiles also have the ability to survive without oxygen for as long as two hours. They don’t require a recovery time after this period and can come up for air and return underwater. This ability, also known as anoxia, is associated with extreme longevity in animals.
Unfortunately, the popularity of alligator and crocodile skin handbags wiped out a large majority of crocs in the 20th century. There would likely be much larger crocodiles today if hunters had not killed so many in the past hundred years. Luckily, many countries have put hunting restrictions on these reptiles so that their species will be protected for years to come.
Unfortunately, only two years after his capture, Lolong died in captivity. He was ill for about a month before he died, refusing to eat or do much. That year the country had seen unseasonably long and cold weather, which may have contributed to his death. Before he died, his abdomen was very bloated and there was a change in the color of his feces. His official cause of death was ruled to be from the stress of being in captivity and a fungal infection.
After Lolong died, his remains were preserved at the National Museum of Natural History in Manila. Even his corpse is massive, requiring eighteen men to move the giant body into an exhibit. Lolong was well-loved by tourists and became an internet sensation after his death in 2013.
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