Simply by looking at the large size of crocodile you cannot imagine what do crocodiles eat in the wild. Crocs eat wide range of different animals—from large ungulates and medium-size birds to the small lizards. It’s true that crocs spend the bulk of their time in water they are equally capable to hunt on land.
Crocodiles wait for the right moment to strike on a prey and thus they are often called sit-and-wait predators. They remain in the water motionless while focusing on the prey almost all the time.
While lions rule the land in Africa crocodiles are at the top of its food chain in water. They often make their presence feel to marine animals no matter how large they might become. Its amazing ability to chase down animals on land makes it even more fearsome to many wild animals.
Although crocs are extremely strong that they can kill large mammals yet they generally prefer to prey on medium-size or small mammals.
Young crocodiles are not skilled enough to grab large mammals such as zebras for zebras can easily crush the croc’s jaws with their powerful kick. Therefore this is something that adult crocs must do on their own.
See also: Where Do Crocodiles Live
Saltwater Crocodile Diet
The saltwater crocodile is not generally a selective feeder rather it feeds on almost anything that is available in its natural habitat. Like a typically crocodile, the saltwater is likely to go by many days on a little food. It means that the success rate in the crocodile’s hunting is fairly low.
Young saltwater crocodiles are thought to rely on small animals including insects, aquatic invertebrates, small frogs and fish. They also consume many amphibians, large gastropods, birds, medium-size mammals, crustaceans, molluscs, and cephalopods. Young crocs also feed on lizards, turtles, and snakes.
When the saltwater species grow up to 3.9 feet in length it relies heavily on fish, birds, and small mammals. Now the croc may no longer eat small invertebrates. That is not to say that adults eat only large animals. They will continue to feed on small prey all their lives. It’s just that they have increased the variety of prey they consume.
See also: Saltwater Crocodile Facts
In mangrove habitats, the saltwater crocodile likes to feed on crustaceans. Mud crabs that belong to the genus Scylla makes up the essential part of the diet.
In birds, crocodiles prefer to eat water birds, magpie goose, emu, common sand-piper, and wading birds.
Large to medium-sized mammals make up much of the adult crocodile’s diet and this includes hog deer, long-tailed macaques, greater mouse-deer, crab-eating macaques, proboscis monkey, wallabies, flying foxes, badgers, fishing cats, gibbons, civets, rodents, jackals, otters, porcupines, mongoose, and hares. They may also eat chevrotains whenever they see one.
Adult species might never stop feeding on small animals because these animals are the only source to gain strength when the food is scarce.
Saltwater crocs are extremely large and thus they can get hold of large animals such as sambar, wild boar, kangaroo, deer, dingoes, gaur, bovines, water buffalo, banteng, and orangutans. They will eat domestic livestock including sheep, cattle, goat, chicken, horses, and pigs.
Prominent among marine animals are dugongs, sawfish, sea snakes, saltwater bony fish, sea birds, sharks, and sea turtles. The saltwater crocs typically hunt on the coastal areas where they could easily find female turtles returning to their breeding sites. Crocs consume baby turtles that come out from burrows at night.
When the prey is spotted the crocodile swims without making any noise and try to get as close possible as it can. As it reaches, the croc strikes the prey giving it little or no time to escape. The hunting behavior of saltwater crocodile is quite unique from Nile crocodile or even alligators. When the prey is too large the croc will first try to drown it or crush it with a death roll. The saltwater crocodile has got one of the most powerful bites so much so that it can crush the adult bovid’s skull between the jaws.
American Crocodile Diet
Unlike most other crocodilian species, the American crocodile relies on fish for the most part of their diet. They have relatively slender and narrow snout which is adaptation of an animal that eats fish.
American crocodiles will not spare a single fish species that swims in the freshwater habitats. The snout of the American croc is not so narrow in comparison to other fish-eating crocodiles such as gharials. This shows that they also eat other animals besides fish.
See also: American Crocodile Facts
The crocodile’s diet also consists of frogs, turtles, birds, snails, mammals, and crabs. They are also thought to feed on carrion.
Depending on the location American crocs have a varied diet. The crocodiles living in Haiti seem to be more concerned with eating fiddler crabs which make up almost 34% of the diet. Generally they would prefer to consume insects, herons, pelicans, storks, grebes, herons, coots, moorhens, flamingos, snails, and larvae. The Mexican population relies on frogs, small mammals, fish, aquatic insects, and turtles.
Crocodiles living in Florida feed on mullet, tarpon, and bass. However in Costa Rica, one such American crocodile ate adult olive ridley sea turtles.
Slender-snouted Crocodile Diet
The slender-snouted crocodile is a medium-size croc that resembles gharial in appearance. It is thought to feed on fish, aquatic snakes, crustaceans, birds, turtles, and amphibians. Although rarely but they do consume small mammals.
Orinoco Crocodile Diet
Fish makes up much of the Orinoco crocodile’s eat. The snout is narrow and it helps the croc to move fast through water in order to capture large fish. That is not to say that Orinoco crocs rely exclusively on fish. They also eat birds, mammals, and small reptiles out of their opportunistic nature.
Adults also prefer large animals including capybara but most of the times they do not get the opportunity to hunt larger prey. In rare occasions however Orinoco crocs kill caimans.