So which one is the most accurate?Well Saltwater crocodile, while nice and descriptive is sorta misleading. While these are the most pelagic (sea going) of the crocodylians, they are not the only ones. Nor do they spend their lives at sea. These crocs mostly use the sea as it's transportation and spend most of their hunting time in fresher water. So maybe calling them saltwater crocodiles isn't such a good idea.
Indopacific crocodile is much better since it describes where the animal lives, but this name is not widely accepted so there is no point using a name no one likes.Finally there is the Estuarine crocodile. This is a bit more accurate than saltwater since it narrows it down to frequented areas. In the end estuarine crocodile is probably the best name for them.
Well that and salty (more on this later)
Osteoderms are few and far between on the neck, but uniform throughout the rest of the body.Coloration is quite variable in this species with juveniles having bright tan colors with black spotting and blotches on the tail more often then not forming bands.
Adults may be anywhere from straight black to a beautiful golden tan. Some retain their black stripes while others lose them.The snout is robust and long allowing these animals to take down a wide range of prey items.
These crocodiles are huge animals growing to lengths of up to 7 meters. There have even been reports of individuals reaching 9 meters, although one must note that these other observations are usually exaggerations and in any case these individuals would be rarities. Today your average male salty will reach a length of 5-6 meters while females usually don't get much larger than 4 meters.Large individuals will reach weights of up to 11/2 tonnes.
When said animal does show up (let's say a wild boar), the croc positions itself ever so carefully as close as possible to the animal without being noticed.How close can it get?
Well a 5 meter individual can hide itself in less than 1 meter of water without giving itself away.After getting as close as possible to it's prey, the croc sets up for the strike. It's positions it's tail so as for a quick spring. The forelimbs are often weightless and sometimes the croc assumes a bipedal stance underwater. This is because all the power is going to come from the hindlimbs and tail. The forelimbs are for bracing upon impact or for extra acceleration in the event of a miss.
Now the croc waits for the right moment to strike.Interestingly enough, crocs on average seem to attack drinking animals just as they are prepared to leave. It's not sure whether or not this is due to the animal realizing something's wrong at the last minute or if crocs prefer it this way (perhaps they like a challenge?)
Upon the strike, the croc is launched out of the water onto land and into it's prey, snapping it's jaws shut and breaking any bones of it's prey along the way.As soon as the croc grabs on, it immediately reverses direction and drags it's hapless victim into the water in an attempt to drown it. With the boar scenario all the croc really has to do is grab on in order to finish the job, but this would be more imperitive with an animal as big as a water buffalo.
After killing the animal the croc tears it up with either a couple nasty shakes or a deathroll or two.
Afterwards the male and female will get together. She will show her submissiveness by raising her jaw and exposing her throat to him. Then he will come on top of her and they will submerge and mating will occur.When the female has finished mating she will go off to find a suitable nest site. Unlike Niles and gharials, Crocodylus porosus is a mound nester like the alligatoroids. During the wet season the female will choose a suitable site on the shore and begin building a mound of vegetation. When that is done she will dig a hole in the center and place her 60-80 eggs in it and then cover them up. After that she will stand guard over her babies during the 3 month incubation period, attacking any animal that dares to mess with her eggs (including any inquisitive crocs).
When the eggs hatch (and even before) they begin calling to their mother using ultrasound. She comes up from the water and begins to dig them out. This can be a tedious process seeing as how crocodilians aren't exactly built for burrowing. When she finds the eggs she will either let the eggs hatch and watch the babies head to the water or she will actively take them in her mouth and carefully crack them open and take her young to the water in her mouth.As the neonates grow up they spend much of their time with mom and eachother. After they leave their ever vigilant parent (all croc babies seem to voluntarily leave their parents. The adults never seem to pressure them into leaving) the juveniles will spend their days in weedy areas of the lakes and rivers where birds and snakes would have trouble getting at them. There they will stay until they get big enough to move out on their own (usually around 1 meter). They will then become more solitary and have a limited social interaction with others (mind you much of this social interaction will depend on the population and area with places rich in food favoring a more social croc society).
The complete article can be seen on the crocodile specialist group websiteAnd here we thought all this time that surfing was reserved for Californians and sea lions :)
People venturing into salty territory should be aware of this. While many of the crocs today have grown to fear humans, the thought of a 2 meter biped voluntarily wading into it's feeding grounds might be too tempting to pass up. Things to remember.