Crocodiles are large-sized semi-aquatic reptiles found in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Australia. There are 18 living species of crocodiles. All the species are the apex predators in their habitat and exist at the top of the food chain. However, crocodiles sometimes fall prey to other animals like big cats (lions, leopards, jaguars), and some snakes. Juvenile crocodiles are extremely vulnerable and are usually hunted by other animals and even large crocodiles. Here, we gathered information about what eats crocodiles and what their predators are.
What Eats Crocodiles
Crocodiles are themselves the top predators in their habitat and keep the population of many animals in control. However, many animals prey on and eat crocodiles. Juvenile and young crocodiles are especially vulnerable.
Big cat species, like tigers, African lions, and leopards are known to kill and eat crocodiles. Some non-venomous snakes like anacondas and pythons also sometimes eat crocodiles. Sharks (great white shark and tiger shark) also prey on saltwater crocodiles in estuaries. Large birds of prey, like eagles and vultures, may also attempt to kill and eat younger crocodiles. Very young crocodiles are especially vulnerable and are hunted by even dogs, pigs, other reptiles, and birds of prey. Crocodiles are also well-known for cannibalism and large individuals usually eat their younger ones and eggs when no other food source is available.
The following is the list of animals that eat crocodiles, their youngers, and eggs:
- African lions
- Great white sharks
- Tiger sharks
- Shoebill stork
- Olive python
- Burmese python
- Other reptiles
Do Jaguars Eat Crocodiles?
Jaguars will kill small crocodiles, but a full-grown crocodile would be difficult to kill. Crocodiles and jaguars are not found in the same habitat, so there is no known incident of a jaguar killing and eating a crocodile. However, jaguars are known for killing and eating caimans, the closest relatives of crocodiles found in their habitat. Jaguar is a powerful, fast, bold, and excellent swimmer. It can crush an animal’s skull and turtle’s shell with its powerful bite force. Jaguars are spotted many times in South America for killing and eating caimans.
Do Tiger Hunt Crocodiles?
Yes, there are reported incidents of tigers hunting crocodiles on land. However, crocodiles are not the favorite prey of tigers. They will hunt it only if no other option is available because the tough skin of crocodiles is difficult for a tiger to pierce.
Both Tigers and crocodiles are apex predators and tend to compete for the same prey rather than hunting each other. If a crocodile is in water, then it would have an advantage over a tiger. But, on land, the tiger usually beats crocodiles. Tigers may also work in groups to beat a crocodile.
Do snakes eat crocodiles?
Giant snake species like Burmese python and olive python are known to eat crocodiles and alligators. They usually eat young crocodiles, but they are also recorded killing and eating large crocodiles. Other giant and massive snake species like green anaconda, Indian python, Amethystine python, and reticulated python may also eat crocodiles, but they have never been documented.
Do Sharks Eat Crocodiles?
Crocodiles sometimes fall prey to sharks. Incidents have been documented in which tiger sharks prey on saltwater crocodiles in Australia and great white sharks hunt American crocodiles in Columbia. Bull sharks are also known to prey on crocodiles.
Do Crocodiles Eat Crocodiles?
Cannibalism is common among crocodiles. Large crocodiles eat small individuals of the same species or other species when there is a limited food supply or to show dominance. Many species of crocodiles are highly territorial and can even attack individuals of their kind when encroaching on their territory. Large crocodiles also eat smaller ones and eggs, possibly to control their population. However, food security is the major reason for cannibalism in crocodiles. When there is enough food supply in their habitat, then they usually avoid cannibalism.
What Predatory Birds Eat Crocodiles?
Birds of prey like eagles, and vultures pick up and eat young and juvenile crocodiles. Shoebill stork is another predatory bird that is well-known for eating juvenile crocodiles.
Human Impact And Threats To Crocodiles
Humans are the biggest predators and threat to crocodiles. Aboriginal Australians hunted crocodiles for thousands of years. Their meat is considered a delicacy in some countries because of its low fat and high protein content. Despite hunting, climate change, habitat destruction, and other human activities are also causing threats to crocodiles.
Currently, the hunting of crocodiles in their natural habitat is prohibited in many countries because the population of some species has severely declined due to overhunting. Their meat is still eaten in countries like Australia, Ethiopia, Thailand, China, Finland, Singapore, and the Philippines. In some countries, crocodiles and alligators are now reared in farms for their meat.
The skin of crocodiles is tanned and used for making leather products like handbags and shoes.