The Estuarine Crocodiles of West Papua

West Papua Animals
Sumber : Reservasi

Technically an Indo-Pacific nature resident, estuarine crocodiles can be found in Australia and its surroundings. Since these reptiles are also discovered in West Papua, then these crocodiles are also West Papuan animals. Still, how much do we know about these creatures of two worlds?

West Papua Animals
Sumber : Pikiran Rakyat

The Alternative Names for Estuarine Crocodiles

These West Papuan animals are also known as saltwater crocodiles, Indo-Pacific crocodiles, and ‘salties’. Despite that, estuarine crocodiles can also be found swimming in freshwater domains, like lakes and rivers.

How Estuarine Crocodiles Look Like

At a glance from a distance, they look no different from other types of crocodiles. They have long snouts with well-formed teeth. Their nostrils are set atop their heads, and the skin is thick with osteoderms (bony plates embedded on their bodies). Their tails are long and muscular. Their bodies are streamlined, with short limbs.

Last but not least, their feet are webbed and full of claws.

The long snout of estuarine crocodile is twice shorter than the width of its head. You can measure that from the tip to the middle point between its eyes. The adult crocodiles of this species are heavily built. Their colors vary, from golden tan, grey until black. This animal has irregular dark mottling.

It is different compared to their young ones. The juvenile estuarine crocodiles stand out more with bright patterns and dark spots on their bodies and tails. Their bellies are creamy-colored. As they grow older, the dark spots will soon fade.

The average length of an adult estuarine crocodile is between three to five meters. The male is usually much larger than their female counterparts.

The Habitation of Estuarine Crocodiles

As mentioned earlier, you can find them where the watery area is. Rivers are just some of the examples. Just like their names, these crocodiles are spotted in estuaries. Other watery spots to find them include creeks, swamps, lagoons, and also billabongs.

Since they are mostly Indo-Pacific creatures, these crocodiles are distributed widely around southwestern areas like India and Sri Lanka. They also exist in Southeast Asia, like Indonesia – which specifically is in West Papua. Another southeastern Asia country to find them is The Philippines.

Last but not least, they can also be found in Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Their Seasonality and What Estuarine Crocodiles Eat

Estuarine crocodiles are only visible out in the open in mid-year, which is from June to July. They are often seen basking in the sun on the open mud banks. When the weather gets too warm for them (above 35 C), these West Papuan animals prefer hiding from the sun. They usually hide in the shade of mangrove forest when they get out of the water.

How Estuarine Crocodiles Communicate with Each Other and How They Breed

Although they mostly go out during the night, estuarine crocodiles may still hunt during the day when they see their chances. They eat almost every animal, from the smaller ones like insects and crustaceans. If the adult crocodiles are big enough, they go for bigger prey, like water birds, sea turtles, and even large mammals like water buffalos.

Just like all crocodiles, estuarine crocodiles are quite stealthy when stalking their potential victims. They are sensitive to movements around them. While hiding underwater, they patiently wait until the unaware preys approach the side of the lake or river. Once the moment is right, they will suddenly appear with open snouts and crush their victims between their jaws. The smaller ones are easily crushed and swallowed, while the bigger ones have to be dragged underwater first.

The rest of their procedures are like typical horror movie scenes. Their victims will be dismembered before being eaten.

As West Papuan animals, these creatures are generally safe from humans. Knowing how they attack their prey, it is best to stay away.

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