Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Who Would Win A Fight?

Written by Colby Maxwell
Published: June 14, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/AppleZoomZoom
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Sharks and crocodiles are some of the top predators in the entire world. The tiger shark is responsible for the second most deaths in the world of any shark species, only losing to the great white. Crocodiles are known as elite ambush hunters and are the largest reptiles living on earth today. Although these two animals generally live in different habitats, there is occasionally some overlap in the places they frequent. Today, we will be seeing who would win in a battle to the death: Tiger shark vs crocodile!

Comparing a Tiger Shark and a Crocodile

Tiger sharks and crocodiles are apex predators in their respective environments.

A-Z-Animals.com

Tiger SharkCrocodile
Bite force2,350 lbs per square inch3,700 lbs per square inch
SizeWeight: 850-1,400 lbs
Length: 10-14 feet
Weight: 900-2,200 lbs
Length: 5-23 feet
Swimming abilityCompetent, agile swimmer in deep waters.Ambush predator. Prefers shallow water.
Hunting strategySurprise attack from below.Passive. Wait for prey to venture too close.
Special skills and adaptationsTeeth designed to cut through anything. Hardened and calcified mouth. Electroreceptors.Thick armor.

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Pre-fight

Tiger sharks and crocodiles are some of the most fearsome predators in the entire world, but they rarely, if ever, have encounters in the wild. Still, due to the frequency that saltwater crocodiles venture into the ocean, it’s a distinct possibility that a showdown between these apex predators could happen in real life. If something like that was to occur, who would emerge victorious?

Today, we will look at these animals and see who would come out on top in a showdown to death. We’ve covered five distinct categories that break down each of these animals’ skills and stats, allowing us to judge them one at a time. By the end, we should know who would win a real-life battle. Additionally, since life is about odds, not certainties, we are going to give a rough estimation of how often the winner would be able to take home a victory.

The fight will follow these parameters to reflect a possible scenario:

  • Ocean waters between 20 and 100 feet deep
  • Semi-clear to clear conditions

Let’s get started!

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Bite force

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Fight
The saltwater crocodile has the strongest recorded bite force of any living animal.

Pius Rino Pungkiawan/Shutterstock.com

Sharks, as a general rule, don’t have impressive bite forces. Despite their size, sharks generally rely on the sharpness of their teeth to do damage, not the strength of their bite. The best guesses for the bite force of a tiger shark currently sit around 2,350 pounds per square inch, a much higher number than most sharks. Tiger sharks have strong bites in relation to other shark species globally.

Crocodiles are famous for their incredible jaws! The saltwater crocodile is known for having one of the strongest bite forces of any animal in the entire world. Current measurements have saltwater crocs sitting with a bite force of around 3,700 pounds per square inch, the highest in the world. With jaws that strong, snapping bone, cartilage, and limbs clean off isn’t too hard.

Winner: Crocodile

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Size

Freshwater crocodile on a river bank in Queensland Australia.
Crocodiles have comparable sizes to tiger sharks.

ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com

Tiger sharks are generally considered to be the second-largest predatory shark species in the world, only behind the great white. These massive fish regularly reach lengths of 14 feet but have been measured over 16 feet in some instances. Additionally, the tiger shark can weigh as much as 2,000 lbs, although most individuals weigh between 380 and 1,400 lbs.

Crocodiles are the largest reptiles on earth by a long shot. The largest species of crocodile, the saltwater croc, regularly grows to lengths of 14 to 23 feet long. Additionally, they can weigh as much as 900-1,200 lbs, although record-holding individuals have been measured over 2,000 lbs.

Winner: Tie

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Swimming ability

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Fight
The tiger shark is a fish and can breathe underwater, giving it an edge.

Pterantula at the English language Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Both the tiger shark and crocodile are aquatic creatures. Tiger sharks, however, can’t move on land and are entirely dependent on swimming. As predatory fish in the water, they can be extremely fast when needed and can swim to depths of around 3,000 feet. With specialized fins and a strong tail, these sharks can swim to around 20 mph, with short bursts of speed as they approach prey. Sharks are fish, however, and likely have better mobility underwater.

Crocodiles are generally sluggish while waiting around to ambush prey, but they can be extremely fast when the need arises. In the water, crocs can swim between 15-18 mph, just a tad under the typical swimming speed of a tiger shark. On land, they can lunge forward in bursts of energy significantly faster but can only sprint very short distances.

Winner: Tiger shark

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Hunting strategy

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Fight
Tiger sharks are better hunters when in deep water.

HQuality/Shutterstock.com

The preferred strategy of a tiger shark is to swim up to unsuspecting prey and attack it from an angle, usually below. This strategy is extremely efficient as it gives little time for a swimming animal to react. By the time you see a tiger shark swimming up from the depths, it’s usually too late. Often, a tiger shark will circle its prey before attacking, especially when it knows it can outswim the animal in question.

Crocodiles are ambush predators like the tiger shark, just much more passively. A crocodile waits in murky water with its eyes just above the waterline. When animals come to the shore to drink, or a fish or turtle swims past its mouth, the croc leaps forward and locks its jaws around the prey. In the ocean, however, this method of hunting is almost completely useless, especially when you consider the special adaptations of a tiger shark.

Winner: Tiger shark

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Special skills and adaptations

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Fight
Tiger sharks have specially adapted teeth to break into hardened shells and skin.

Matthew R McClure/Shutterstock.com

The tiger shark has a ton of very specific adaptations that allow it to be one of the apex predators in the world’s oceans. Tiger shark teeth are specially adapted to cut through incredibly tough material, particularly sea turtle shells and bony fish. Their teeth are very sharp, have an additional line of serration, and have a sideways pointed tip. Additionally, tiger sharks have calcified mouths that allow them to firmly grasp hard and pointed prey that would normally cut the mouths of other sharks. Even more, tiger sharks have the ability to detect electromagnetic fields from living beings, allowing them to hunt in total darkness if needed. It would be impossible for something to sneak up on them without them being aware. Tiger sharks also have the ability to breathe underwater, making extended underwater fights lean in their favor.

Crocodiles are also highly adapted creatures, just differently than the tiger shark. The biggest defense for a crocodile is the hard, scaly skin that could stop a knife in its tracks. Additionally, the quick reflexes and “death roll” behavior could potentially allow a croc to rip off a fin or flip a shark over if given the chance.

Winner: Tiger shark

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Final battle

Tiger Shark vs Crocodile: Fight
Tiger sharks beat crocodiles in a fight 9 times out of 10.

wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

In a final battle between a tiger shark and a crocodile, a tiger shark would almost always kill a crocodile. Tiger shark wins 9 times out of 10.

The main reasons we placed the tiger shark as a winner are their prowess as ocean hunters and their specialized ability to cut through thick material. In the open water, the tiger shark will always have the advantage over the crocodile. It can swim faster, maneuver better, and breathe underwater. If the fight goes below the water, the tiger shark almost always wins. Additionally, the armored plates of the crocodile have a perfect answer in the tiger shark’s mouth. The hardened mouth and specialized teeth cut through turtle shells regularly, a much harder material than the scales on a croc.

The only reason we didn’t give the tiger shark a 10/10 win rate is due to the crocodiles’ specialized rolling behavior. If the initial attack of the tiger shark didn’t immediately kill the croc and it was able to bite the shark, things could be different. If a crocodile was able to roll a shark on its back, it would be an immediate KO, as it would put the shark into a deep trance. In fact, killer whales often exploit this weakness when hunting sharks and will often roll them on their backs to kill them without a fight.

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