How Often Do Crocodiles Eat? Their Feeding Habits Explained

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 25th September 2023

A hungry crocodile
A hungry crocodile | Dgwildlife via Getty Images

We all know that crocodiles are not only fearsome, but they are also hardy animals.

They can go for a long time without a meal, and they’ll still be able to survive.

If you’re curious about a crocodile’s feeding habits, read on to find out more.

Gage Beasley's In-Demand Plush Toys
Gage Beasley’s In-Demand Plush Toys

How Often Do Crocodiles Eat?

In a year, a crocodile will consume almost 50 whole meals.

Crocodiles aren’t picky eaters, especially when they’re feasting. They say a crocodile will eat anything it can outclass in the water or surprise and incapacitate.

These reptiles have extremely flexible diets.

Crocodile eating it’s catch (small Kangaroo) in a Billabong – Northern Territory Australia / Jamesbowyer via Istock

Fish and huge mammals like water buffaloes, cows, and wildebeests are all fair game for crocodiles.

Even young elephants and giraffes are vulnerable to crocodile attacks while traversing shallow streams and wetlands.

A starving crocodile may even leap into the air to hunt birds and bats.

They’ll resort to eating snails and other mollusks when things are tough. They’ll even seek dead animals to eat.

Crocodiles are voracious eaters and will eat virtually anything they come upon.

Gage Beasley's Crocodile Soft Stuffed Plush Toy
Gage Beasley’s Crocodile Soft Stuffed Plush Toy

Crocodiles have the most acidic stomachs than other vertebrates, allowing them to break down tough components like horns, hooves, and shells.

A crocodile will eat everything on its plate.

The crocodile’s stomach uses these hard things as gizzard stones to effectively crush up tough prey.

Crocodiles will also eat sharks, should the latter wander into the former’s domain.

A Nile Crocodile swallows a fish
A Nile Crocodile swallows a fish | JOHAN63 VIA UNSPLASH

Bull sharks, typically found in warm shallow environments, both salt and fresh, can serve as a meal for crocodiles.

This is quite uncommon, and the one time it was observed occurred in June 2010 at Yellow Water in Australia’s Kakadu National Park.

A massive crocodile measuring 5 meters in length devoured a bull shark.

Bull sharks can reach a length of 81 centimeters and a weight of 200 to 290 pounds. It’s easy to see why crocodiles are feared as one of the planet’s deadliest predators.

Here’s a fun fact that makes the crocodile’s feeding habits weirder: they can go for a long time without eating — up to times when a normal human being would’ve died!

How Long Can Crocodiles Go Without Eating?

A Nile Crocodile basking in the sun
A Nile Crocodile basking in the sun / KaidoKarner via Istock

Crocs, especially larger crocodiles, can last up to 12 months without eating.

Crocodiles, like all reptiles, are ectotherms, meaning they must actively seek heat sources from the environment. 

To regulate their internal temperature, crocodiles have learned to sunbathe when it’s chilly and seek shelter or water when it is too warm.

Since crocodiles and other ectotherms don’t need to feed frequently to keep their bodies warm, they have tremendous extra energy to put to other uses or reserve later.

As a result of its highly developed metabolism, a crocodile can keep and use virtually all the food it consumes.

Crocodile water bathing
Top view of a wild crocodile in blue waters of Lake Everglades, resting on surface with fishes around | Wirestock via iStock

Crocodiles even seem capable of shutting down in extreme circumstances and surviving on their own tissue for a considerable amount of time.

You might be thinking, if crocodiles do not eat, how can they survive outside threats?

The crocodile is an exceptionally hardy animal, with very few natural predators, a solid armor of bony plates enveloping most of its body, and strong jaw muscles capable of breaking anything from bone to cast iron.

A crocodile’s robust immune system allows it to endure terrible injuries, including having its limbs or tail ripped off, and yet live for decades.

How Do Crocodiles Hunt And Eat?

Waiting for its prey | Rayner Simpson via Unsplash

Crocodiles prefer hunting in the water because they can cover ground much more quickly than on land.

They are adept at concealment even in shallow water or muck. They wait for other animals to come into the area for food, then pounce at the first opportunity.

That’s how they gain control of larger animals and drown them by submerging their faces.

Their preferred method of dispatching prey is the “death roll,” where they grab and hold with their powerful jaws and use their powerful tails to roll their bodies to dismember their prey.

What do baby crocodiles eat?

Small crocodile close-up. Jungle of Sri Lanka
Small crocodile close-up. Jungle of Sri Lanka / Goldream via Istock

Baby crocodiles, often known as hatchlings, are too young to hunt larger animals.

Typically, their prey consists of aquatic insects. Such young crocodiles typically eat crustaceans like water snails.

They begin preying on frogs and young fish as they mature. Juvenile crocodiles are also frequently spotted indulging in a shrimp feast.

Do crocodiles eat each other?

Crocodiles inside a pen
Crocodiles inside a pen | RUSSELLTATEdotCOM via iStock

You read that correctly; crocodiles are known to consume their kind.

Observing cannibalistic behavior in crocodiles is not uncommon, regardless of whether they are found in saltwater or freshwater environments.

When there is a severe lack of food, which occurs during the breeding season, adult crocodiles tend to devour young and infant crocodiles.

Cannibalism is thought by some experts to be primarily practiced by male crocodiles to reduce the amount of rivalry over available prey.

Can crocodiles eat humans?

A crocodile looks out of the water
Peak-a-Croc | Daniel Pelaez Duque via Unsplash

Saltwater crocodiles are notoriously hostile creatures because they possess some strongest biting forces.

Is it possible that a crocodile would eat a human if it had the chance?

Since crocodiles are opportunistic feeders, they will not think twice about devouring a human if given a chance.

Crocodiles, especially those of a larger size, can be extremely deadly to people.

It can devour a person, but not in one mouthful. Therefore it can’t ingest more than one at a time.

The Nile and saltwater crocodiles are notoriously dangerous reptiles that will kill and eat humans if given a chance.

Is it true that crocodiles eat rocks?

An American crocodile on the banks of the Tarcoles River in Costa Rica
An American crocodile on the banks of the Tarcoles River in Costa Rica | crbellette via iStock

Crocodiles can be seen downing rocks and stones, not because they’re starving.

These indigestible items are consumed solely for the sole purpose of aiding digestion.

They promote digestion by breaking down food into smaller pieces before it is consumed.

Once within the stomach, the boulders and stones aid in the breakdown of the prey’s bones.

These pebbles and stones add to the crocodile’s overall mass and help it maintain its submerged living.

Typically, the stomach of a full-grown crocodile will contain a mass of rock and stone weighing between 10 and 15 pounds.

What Can Eat A Crocodile?

The might Jaguar
The might Jaguar | David Waite via Unsplash

Crocodiles are one of the most terrifying beasts on the planet.

Still, they are prey to a wide variety of other animals, including large felids like jaguars and leopards, large snakes like anacondas and pythons, and even hippos.

Young crocodiles are easy prey for various animals, including herons, egrets, eagles, and wild pigs.

When crocodiles are relaxed and enjoying themselves in the water, they are more likely to suffer unexpected assaults.

Larger snakes, such as pythons, will take advantage of this situation by trapping the crocodile until it dies, at which point the python will devour the entire animal.

Can A Crocodile Die From Starvation?

Crocodile skull
Crocodile skull | kickers via iStock

Although crocodiles are widely accepted to fast for extended periods, there is a limit to how long they can survive without eating; thus, they aren’t truly immortal.

Because of the effects of aging, crocodiles can starve to death.

As with people, crocodiles lose strength and physical fitness as they age, making it more probable that an older, weaker croc may succumb to malnutrition or face intense competition in the wild.

Their teeth frequently fall out, and some of them even acquire cataracts. Therefore they starve to death since they can’t get enough to eat.

Crocodiles have fluctuating dietary needs throughout their lifespan, partly due to their physical development.

However, they risk starving if they don’t acquire the extra food.


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