Have you ever wanted to live in the tropics? Who wouldn’t?! It boasts luscious rainforests, magnificent coral reefs, massive barra and icy cold beers. Well we’re not the only ones who love it up here! My job gets me up close and personal with the creatures our southern cousins have nightmares about. Crocs.
When the dinosaurs disappeared, crocs stared into the face of extinction and laughed. And you know what they say about smiling and crocodiles…..
Estuarine crocs (Crocodylus porosus) are the largest reptiles in the world, and not surprisingly, they have a bit of a bad-ass reputation, which, being a female is maybe what attracts me to them. They are perfectly evolved for the tropical lifestyle. Every piece of their body assists them in survival or procreation:
• the palatial valve, at the back of their throat, means they can munch on food underwater and not drown
• the males lil’ fella is neatly tucked away inside so it doesn’t get damaged while fighting other males, and it only emerges when its time to get lucky with the ladies
• their third eyelid acts like a goggle so they can check us out while staying hidden underwater
• they eat stones that stay in their belly to help digest the crunchy bits, and to control their balance
• and the only way to tell a crocs age is to count the rings in their bones…. much like tree-rings
Despite all these fascinating facts, which I find endearing… crocs can’t win everyone’s affections. They are still seen as a “monster” to many folk. Now listed as vulnerable, one of the biggest threats they face is habitat destruction – because we all want to live in the tropics.
I often hear the question: Why should I share my backyard with something as ugly and scary as a croc? Well first of all – they aren’t ugly (but maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder) and second of all – because they were here first! Ok maybe that’s a little “grade 2” but, among other more sciencey reasons, it’s true!
My mum always said “respect your elders”… well, crocs deserve more respect. They were here long before we were just a twinkle in the earth’s eye…
Remember – be CrocWise, and report all croc sightings to your relevant wildlife agency.
Words and Photos by Kate D.