It’s no secret that crocodiles are carnivores, given their large and powerful jaws. These aquatic reptiles can live in freshwater and saltwater, making their food sources unique.
So, what do crocodiles eat?
Crocodiles eat small mammals, birds, fish, bugs, frogs, other species of reptiles, and crustaceans.
But how much food does a crocodile need to eat in order to survive? And are humans in danger when a hungry crocodile is around? Let’s learn more about these reptiles together!
What Does a Crocodile Eat?
Crocodiles are carnivores and eat a variety of things, such as small mammals, birds, fish, bugs, frogs, other species of reptiles, and crustaceans.
Wild crocodiles are advantageous carnivores, capable of eating whatever prey that happens to stumble upon them. They have even been known to eat humans from time to time as well, but more on that later!
The larger the crocodile, the larger the prey. According to a study done by the Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub, saltwater crocodiles have been known to eat large wildebeest and even other crocodiles!
Given the many species of crocodiles found around the world, their specific diets are different from region to region. However, this doesn’t change one simple fact that is true across all crocodile varieties: they are all carnivores!
A Complete List of Foods Crocodiles Eat
Depending on the location and season, crocodiles can eat a variety of things. They are opportunistic carnivores, and they will eat whatever they come across should they be hungry.
Here is a complete list of foods crocodiles eat:
- Wild boar
- Crustaceans such as crabs
- Deer or other small hoofed mammals
- Baby elephants or rhinos.
Crocodiles in captivity, such as at zoos or aquariums, eat a slightly different diet than wild crocs. No matter what, their diet is meat-based.
A captive crocodile in a zoo is will often eat:
- Raw chicken
- Raw beef
Whether it be in captivity or in the wild, crocodiles are highly opportunistic eaters, and they are also comfortable eating dead animals or carcasses.
Given the size of many species of crocodile, you may be wondering just how much a croc needs to eat in order to survive. Let’s take a look now!
How Much Does a Crocodile Eat?
A crocodile eats on average 2-5 pounds of meat per day, or roughly 5% of its body weight per week. It depends on the overall size of the crocodile and the amount of food that is readily available to them, however. A croc with a great deal of prey nearby may eat much more than 2 pounds of meat a day!
According to the Journal of Herpetology, an adolescent crocodile needs to eat at least 4% of its body weight weekly depending on its size, while a captive croc needs to eat at least four times that amount.
Crocodiles usually require less food than warm-blooded mammals, but this doesn’t mean they don’t feast or gorge themselves on food. They are one of the few predators incapable of tearing their food into smaller pieces- they have to eat their meals whole.
Crocodiles are also not picky eaters in the least. They will eat most anything that crosses their path or can’t outswim them. Depending on the location of the species and the current weather, crocodiles will eat a variety of different things.
For example, crocs will eat much more fish and aquatic creatures during wet and rainy months, while they will need to eat more land mammals during drier months. No matter what, if a crocodile can fit the unsuspecting prey in its jaws, it will do its best to eat it!
Are Crocodiles Dangerous to Humans?
Yes, crocodiles can indeed be dangerous to humans. This is because they are such opportunistic predators, capable of eating anything that is smaller than them. The larger the crocodile, the more likely it is to be a danger to us as humans.
According to an article from JSTOR Daily, high tide is one of the most dangerous times for humans and their livestock if they reside in an area that has saltwater crocodiles. There is little stopping these carnivores from snagging a meal, especially from an unsuspecting person!
Many experts agree that avoiding large crocodile species is in our best interest as humans. Even smaller crocodiles have been known to be dangerous — the powerful jaws of a crocodile are almost impossible to escape, and these big carnivores can move surprisingly fast.
How Does a Crocodile Hunt?
Crocodiles hunt in stealthy groups and from waterways in unique ways. They are often mistaken for logs or trees in the water, and they use this to their advantage. Crocs sneak up on unsuspecting prey on shorelines or even in the water.
Crocodiles have even been known to trick birds and other animals with branches or distractions. Hunting in a group is common among crocs as well, especially with larger prey. Once a crocodile bites their victim, the chances of them letting go are slim!
One of the other unique ways that crocodiles hunt is through drowning. If they snag a bird or a mammal drinking water from the river’s edge, a crocodile will drag their prey down with them, ultimately using the water to their advantage.
Crocodiles also lose many teeth while hunting during their lifetime. Depending on the species and how difficult a time hunting is for them, a crocodile can lose and replace as many as 7,000 teeth before they pass away.
A crocodile’s strong jaws is what makes them such successful hunters. Capable of biting down with at least 1,000 pounds of pressure, most prey can’t escape such a grasp. Think twice next time you see a crocodile in the wild — you may want to give their teeth a wide berth!
Summary of What Crocodiles Eat
Here’s a recap of the foods that crocodiles commonly consume in the wild:
|Crustaceans (e.g. crabs)
|Deer or other small hoofed mammals
|Baby elephants or rhinos
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