What do crocs eat?

25 July 2018

With a fearsome reputation as a ‘hypercarnivorous apex predator’, you would expect estuarine crocodiles (or ‘salties’ as we call them here in the north) to eat anything and everything that comes their way. But where do salties really get their nutrition from?

A new paper and research story from a NERP Northern Hub project led by Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute in collaboration with Parks Australia and NESP, attempts to answer this question for crocodiles in Kakadu National Park. Griffith University researcher Dr Fernanda Adame said the study used a combination of stable isotope measurements and direct feeding observations to show that crocodiles get much of their nutrition from terrestrial prey—mostly feral animals like buffalo and especially pigs. This was particularly true in the dry season when crocodiles are concentrated in shrinking waterholes that terrestrial animals depend on for drinking water. In the wet season, when crocodiles can move into the rivers and ocean, some were getting their nutrition from aquatic animals like fish and turtles—highlighting the importance of flows and connections between rivers and their estuaries and floodplains. Project leader Professor Stuart Bunn, Director of the Australian Rivers Institute, is now leading a NESP Hub project investigating the flows needed to sustain freshwater ecosystems in Queensland’s Mitchell River catchment.

Magela Creek Kakadu crocodile

A 3.3m croc finishing its meal of a feral pig in Magela Creek, Kakadu. Photo: Parks Australia.

Recent Hub News

  • Nov 27, 2018

    NESP Northern Hub marketplace

    Feedback on a recent ‘Research Marketplace’ hosted by the Northern Hub at the annual Territory NRM conference rated the session […]

  • Nov 21, 2018

    New e-DNA research to track endangered bird

    Hub researchers from Charles Darwin University are at the forefront of using new eDNA technology to detect wildlife in the […]

  • Nov 13, 2018

    Accounting for the north’s environments

    Healthy ecosystems benefit our economic prosperity and social wellbeing but the value of these benefits is not always well recognised […]

  • fsdf
View more Hub news

North Australia News

Our Northern Hub Newsletter highlights what's going on in our research projects across northern Australia. It includes latest findings, what's coming up and what this all means for sustainable development and land and water management in the region.

The North Australia News Roundup is an informal monthly collation of news relevant to developing northern Australia. It aims to facilitate cross-sector and cross-region knowledge sharing, and more informed conversations and decisions about the future of the region!

Latest eNewsletters

Stay Informed

Want to know more about Hub activities and the development of northern Australia? Stay informed of activities, research, publications, events and more through the North Australia News Roundup and Hub Newsletter.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required