What Do Crocodiles Really Eat?

Want to know more about the exciting eating habits of crocodiles and how they catch their prey? If so, sink your teeth into this blog!

Nov 9, 2023By Nikita Hillier
what do crocodiles really eat

If you’re intrigued by these fearsome, scaled, prehistoric creatures, you’ve come to the right place! Crocodiles are fascinating, lizard-like reptiles with lightning-fast reflexes, insane hunting skills, and an appetite to match. Known as ambush hunters, crocodiles rely on their senses and speed to strike at prey with an inescapable attack.

They are some of the deadliest predators on Earth with a tremendous bite force, putting fear into even the bravest of people. Find out more about what crocodiles eat, how they hunt, and much more in the blog below!

Crocodiles Feed on Many Things

large crocodile laying on riverbank
Image Credit: Pixabay on Pexels

Crocodiles are widely known for being obligate carnivores. This means that their primary diet consists of flesh. Often, they will snack on:

  • Birds
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Toads and frogs
  • Insects
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Small mammals
  • Mollusks

Sometimes, crocodiles will even show signs of cannibalistic behavior. In doing so, larger crocodiles will often eat smaller crocodiles. It is also important to note that what a crocodile will eat depends greatly on their age, size, and species.

As large scavengers, crocodiles are often seen to act extremely aggressively. They are very opportunistic and are known to grab unsuspecting dogs from riverbanks. Also, much to many people’s disbelief, crocodiles often include fruit in their diet too! This was discovered after seeds were found in the stomachs and stools of multiple crocodiles.

What Do Freshwater Crocodiles Eat?

crocodile with mouth open near water
Image Credit: dMz on Pixabay

Mostly, freshwater crocodiles will munch on a wide variety of vertebrates and invertebrates. They will happily enjoy a meal of both aquatic and land-dwelling insects. When searching for something a little more substantial, they will turn their heads to frogs, spiders, lizards, turtles, birds, and small mammals.

Most commonly, however, they eat things around 2cm in size. When the opportunity arises, they have been known to attack wallabies and larger waterbirds. Freshwater crocodiles will eat pretty much anything they can overpower, which means that they will sometimes even eat hatchlings!

In captivity, larger freshwater crocodiles are fed mice while the hatchlings are fed crickets and grasshoppers. Pretty interesting diet, right?

What Do Saltwater Crocodiles Eat?

two crocodile on sand bank
Image Credit: Jan Venter on Pexels

Much like other crocodile species, saltwater crocodiles aren’t picky about what they eat. These guys will eat pretty much whatever is available when they’re hungry, whether that be a frog, fish, or an unsuspecting mammal on the water’s edge. Saltwater crocodiles hunt a wider range of prey than any other crocodilian.

This is due to their size. Smaller saltwater crocodiles, even hatchlings, will eat fish, frogs, and insects. Juveniles will also eat a large variety of fish, squid, shrimp, snakes, lizards, mammals, and much more. As these guys grow, so does their appetite and ability to eat much larger creatures.

Fully-grown saltwater crocodiles have even been known to take down deer, tigers, dingoes, orangutans, wild boar, buffalo, and sometimes humans.

How Much Do Crocodiles Eat?

crocodile eating meat in water
Image Credit: Los Muertos Crew on Pexels

Now that we know what crocodiles eat, we need to know how much they eat! While mammals such as lions and tigers need quite a lot of food to sustain them, crocodiles on the other hand don’t really need as much food to survive as you’d think. In fact, they can survive on only 1kg of meat every day!

However, on average, they will eat roughly 8-10% of their body weight per week. Sometimes, they may eat more or less than this depending on the circumstances, their age, their body weight, and if they’re having a growth spurt. When experiencing extreme hunger, crocodiles can eat up to half of their body weight in one sitting, while sated alligators eat only a quarter of their body weight.

There is a massive difference between alligators and crocodiles. Juvenile crocodiles only really need to eat 4% of their body weight per week to sustain themselves. Adults will likely need more than this depending on the factors above.

How Crocodiles Eat Their Prey

close up crocodile eye
Image Credit: aglaya3 on Pixabay

As you’ve probably guessed by now, crocodiles are very stealthy hunters. They are as patient as they need to be when trying to find something to eat. They will often sit back, wait, and then pounce at whatever captures their interest.

Often, people will see crocodiles without even realizing what they are. This is because they can easily hide themselves amongst logs and trees. So, be careful, because what you may think is a log, could be a croc looking for its next meal.

They can easily manipulate prey to their advantage, which is another power of theirs when hunting. Crocodiles will often lurk near the water’s edge waiting for prey to come near for a drink. When they have the chance to grab something, they will make a lightning-fast move, grab their prey, and drown it in the water.

To drown their prey, crocodiles perform the famous “death roll.” Their strong jaws are no match for an unsuspecting animal as they chomp and chew, devouring the creature they have chosen for this meal. Even the mighty anaconda would be no match for an adult crocodile!

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!