Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
June 2013

Crocodylus Park, Darwin
location map
Crocodylus Park in Darwin concentrates on breeding and keeping crocodiles. The park is open to visitors and is conveniently situated near Darwin Airport and served by public buses from Darwin City Centre, from Casuarina and from Palmerston. Visitors are free to wander around the crocodile and other animal exhibits at any time and regular tours of the crocodiles, including feeding of the larger saltwater ones, are held through the day.

For our visit in June, before the weather had warmed up to the dry season, the temperature was too low for the crocodiles to be very active and they did not have much interest in food. They were mostly content to lie around in the water, with a few along the bank.

Crocodile pair
Pair of crocodiles in a breeding pen. Male on the left, female on the right.
Crocodile pair
Male crocodiles resting.
Crocodylus Park - page 2
saltwater croc head Head of a saltwater crocodile.
open mouth Saltwater crocodiles open their mouths to help their heads to cool down; the open mouth lets us see the teeth more clearly.
baby croc Part of the guided tour is the opportunity to handle a young crocodile. Even in this small saltwater crocodile the mouth remains securely taped for safety.
Crocodylus Park - page 3
The main display area is a large pool holding about forty salt-water crocodiles, mostly females with three males. An elevated viewing area at one end of this pool allows visitors to watch the crocodiles being fed. Breeding pens, each holding one male and one female in a concrete enclosure with water and dry land for the crocodiles to lie on, extend back from the main pool with an extension of the viewing platform over the pens so visitors can look down into the pens.

Freshwater Crocodile
The term "saltwater" crocodile, often shortened to "salty", is as misleading as the alternative common name of "estuarine" crocodile. This species is not restricted to salt water or to estuaries; and can be found living without difficulty in salt or fresh water; it can also go overland if necessary to reach suitable water. The other Australian crocodile is the freshwater crocodile which really is restricted to freshwater.

The other substantial difference between the species is that the freshwater crocodile primarily eats fish and similar life-forms; it has a long, narrow snout which would break if the crocodile tried to eat a medium to large animal (such as a person). But the saltwater crocodile can, and will, eat anything. It is equipped with snout, teeth and body allowing it to drag animals from the shore into the water then to eat them at leisure; probably more attention-getting for humans is that the saltwater crocodile regards people as food items and can stalk them before making the kill.

This is not to say the freshwater crocodile is harmless to people. It has numerous sharp teeth and will bite in self-defence (for instance if trodden on in a river), causing serious injury. But it will not stalk a person on the bank then drag the victim into the water.

freshy croc The freshwater crocodile has a narrower snout than the saltwater one and with sharper teeth showing along the side of the mouth. As well, the two species walk differently with the freshwater one lifting its body clear of the ground and walking on four legs while the salty more often drags itself along the ground.
Freshwater crocodiles
Freshwater crocodiles piled up in a pen. These are not particularly territorial animals.