Are Crocodiles Aggressive?



It’s safe to say that crocodiles are one of the most feared creatures on the planet. Their razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws can easily take down prey much larger than themselves. But are crocodiles aggressive? Or do they only attack when provoked?

Generally speaking, crocodiles are aggressive and won’t hesitate to attack anything that moves. Studies have shown that most crocodiles show signs of aggression from the moment they are born through to adulthood. Crocodiles are instinctually aggressive animals you should keep your distance from.

The aggression crocodiles display comes from a surprising source, so let’s dive deeper into why these animals can be so violent. 

Are crocodiles aggressive

Crocodile Aggression

In the wild, most animals teach their offspring how to hunt for food and survive harsh conditions.

Carnivores or meat eaters typically fall into this category, but a recent study has shown that crocodiles are born aggressive, unlike many other species. 

For years scientists have thought that the mother teaches aggression in crocodiles. However, a study conducted at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory has discovered something quite different.

The researchers involved in this study observed 90 saltwater crocodiles from the first week of their life. 

They observed the hatchlings to determine the extent of their aggression.

Then, they tested the baby crocodile’s responses to aggression by recording the timing, intensity, and duration of each interaction they used and if the action took place in water or on land.

The study found that crocodiles were aggressive from the moment they were hatchlings. All the aggressive interactions took place in the water and not on land.

They found that the older the crocodiles are, the more aggressive they are.

4 Reasons Why Crocodiles Are So Aggressive

Crocodiles are aggressive toward other crocodiles, humans, and their prey because of several factors, these include:

1. Crocodiles Are Territorial

Crocodiles are highly territorial, and the older the crocodile is, the more aggressively it will defend its territory. 

Suppose an adult crocodile finds an intruder or rival in its environment. In that case, it won’t hesitate to attack the offending person or animal.

Saltwater crocodiles are the most territorial and show extreme aggression towards intruders entering their space.

2. They Protect Their Eggs And Young

do crocodiles lay eggs

One of the most aggressive crocodiles is a mother crocodile protecting her eggs or young. 

When crocodiles are ready to lay their eggs, they will build nests, lay their eggs and keep a close eye on all of them.

A mother crocodile will attack the intruder if a human or animal (including another crocodile) comes close to her nest.

When the crocodile eggs have hatched, and the mother cares for her offspring, she will take them with her wherever she goes, and if anything gets too close, she will attack them fiercely.

3. Crocodiles Are Aggressive In Self Defense

When a crocodile feels threatened, it will attack the object it feels threatened by.

We know that crocodiles are at the top of the food chain in their territory, and most animals will think twice about attacking or acting threateningly toward crocodiles.

Other crocodiles will seek out a territory of their own when they are old enough and won’t hesitate to take on a much larger crocodile.

They are just as aggressive as the bigger adult crocodiles and will show off their combat skills to get hold of territory.

4. They Are Aggressive When Fighting To Mate

There comes a time in all adult crocodiles’ lives when they need to fight to win the favor of a mate.

Crocodiles are not known for being loving or caring towards their partner, but the males will fight with rivals to ensure their lineage is protected and moves on.

Are Crocodiles Aggressive Towards Humans?

Crocodiles have vicious appetites and are known for attacking anything that moves in their vicinity, including humans. 

The saltwater crocodile and Nile crocodile species are the two most widely documented ones known to attack humans.

Around 1000 crocodilian attacks involving a human fatality are reported yearly. It should be noted that caiman, alligators, and gharials all fall into the crocodilian family, so while crocodiles are responsible for most of the 1000 annual deaths, their relatives also add to that number.

Additionally, not all attacks are reported, as they happen in rural areas with little contact with the outside world. 

While crocodile species like the Nile and most saltwater crocodiles attack out of predatory instinct, other crocodile species, like the Mugger crocodile, only become aggressive and attack when they feel threatened or out of self-defense. 

They won’t attack other crocodiles for territory or food like the more aggressive Nile and saltwater crocodiles.

2 Reasons Why Crocodiles Are Aggressive To Humans

Crocodiles like the huge saltwater and the Nile crocodiles will attack humans for one of two reasons:

crocodile jumping out of the water

1. Crocodiles See Humans As A Food Source 

Let’s be honest; we have all eaten something we don’t like because we are hungry. Crocodiles are much like us in that way, they will hunt and eat whatever is available, and sometimes that means humans.

We are the most vulnerable when we are in the water or near crocodile habitats.

While we might be on top of the food chain on land, we are the prey when we are in their territory, and they will eat us the first chance they get.

To take a human down, crocodiles will ambush you when you are in the water. The adult crocodiles will drag you underwater, where they’ll perform a death roll.

Depending on the size, some may even try to swallow you whole. As terrifying as that sounds, it is because a crocodile has no molars and can’t chew its food. They will try to swallow their food whole if they can. 

Juvenile crocodiles will take what they can get, quite literally. They’ll bite off as much of the person as they can (usually a limb) if they are too small to drag you under the water.

2. Crocodiles Will Fight For Survival

The sad fact is that humans threaten many animal habitats by encroaching on their habitats.

For example, crocodiles are known to adapt rapidly to their surroundings and will become more aggressive when they feel they have to fight for their survival.

Their aggression is a trait that most crocodiles are born with. They may be one of the most dangerous animals on earth, but they must pass their survival instincts on to the next generation.

Are Crocodile Pets Aggressive Toward Their Owners?

A crocodile is one of the most dangerous animals to keep as a pet; it is a wild animal, after all.

People trained or skilled at working with crocodiles know that the crocodile is never tame.

Experts who work with crocodiles daily say that crocodiles can lull unsuspecting owners into a false sense of calmness and strike when they least expect it. 

Crocodiles (understandably) don’t like to be kept as pets, and if their owner doesn’t take care of them the way they should, the crocodile will eventually turn on them.

There have even been attacks on trained professionals that work in wildlife sanctuaries and zoos.

If you want to get a pet, dogs, cats, hamsters, etc., are domesticated and will provide far more joy than keeping an unhappy croc that may eventually eat you.

Final Thoughts On How Aggressive Crocodiles Are

Crocodiles are aggressive from birth and will attack humans if they come into their vicinity.

Because of this, it is important to be aware of your surroundings in an area where crocodiles may live.

If you see a crocodile, do not approach it and stay away from its territory.

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