Scientific Name: Crocodylus johnstoni
Belinda Meaker, South Coast, NSW
Although not regarded as being as dangerous as its larger cousin, the large number of long dagger-like teeth in the mouth of the freshwater crocodile can cause horrific injuries. If cornered they will bite and then shake their head violently from side to side, the teeth ripping and tearing skin, muscle and tendons. They are best given a wide berth in the wild.
The freshwater crocodile generally only grows to around 2 metres, although some specimens will attain a length of 3 metres. The back of the crocodile is light brown usually with a number of black, irregular bands. The underside is creamy-white. They can be distinguished from the larger saltwater crocodile by their longer and thinner snout.
Generally a shy animal, the freshwater crocodile is not dangerous to humans, preferring to stay well away. If cornered or harassed, however, they will retaliate fiercely, and their sharp teeth can inflict serious injuries. They can be found in inland creeks, rivers and billabongs from northwest Western Australia to northern Queensland.
Fish is the freshwater crocodile's main source of food, with a wide range of other small animals such as insects, spiders, turtles, small reptiles, and water rats also taken. The long, pointed teeth enable the crocodile to grasp and hold their slippery prey with ease.
Unlike the saltwater crocodile, the freshwater crocodile breeds in the dry season. A burrow is excavated in sand and about 20 hard, white eggs are deposited then covered with the removed sand. The nest is checked occasionally by the female. Upon hatching, the young crocodiles stay near their mother for some weeks before gradually dispersing off to fend for themselves.