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Precautions to take in Crocodile Country

Copyright © Bradly FordSaltwater (also called Estuarine) crocodiles play an important role as top predator in marine, estuaries, rivers, and wetlands of tropical Australia. The Australian government has made the commitment to the conservation of this species. The fact that these animals can prey on large mammals, including humans, means locals and visitors to the area need to know about the habits of these animals and follow the guidelines that minimize the risks of being attacked. Here is a summary of the “croc-wise” guidelines issued by the Queensland state government.

Most of these guidelines are in the common sense category. Always keep in mind that maintaining a distance from where crocodiles live and hunt is the prime theme.

Don’t swim where crocodiles live.

Fish a few meters back from the edge of the water. Don’t stand on logs or branches over deep water. Crocodiles are ambush hunters, and able to lunge out of the water.

Avoid activities near the water’s edge or on sloping banks. Do your dishes, clean fish, and do other activities away from the bank and off of boat ramps.

When boating for fishing from a boat, don’t dangle arms and legs over the boat or into the water. If you fall out of a boat, get back in as soon as possible.

Stay back from slide marks. Slide marks are bare smooth spots on banks of rivers, lagoons and wetlands: they are the spots where crocodiles habitually haul themselves on shore.

Don’t provoke or interfere with crocodiles. This includes small hatchlings. While cute by reptilian standards, the little squeaky noise they make can often attract a very large mother, who is very capable of defending her offspring.

Don’t feed crocodiles, either directly, or by leaving fish and food scraps on boat ramps or campsites. Habituating crocodiles to feeding near areas of human activities is a dangerous thing to do.

Camp 2m above the high water mark and 50m from water's edge in crocodile country.

Avoid livestock and wildlife drinking spots. Crocodiles are patient and learned hunters, they know these spots are likely places to find a meal.

Be especially careful during the Sept-Apr. breeding season, crocodiles are often more aggressive, territorial, and hungry during this time of the year.

If camping at a site for a long time don’t form a pattern with your near-the-water activities. If you fish or take water from the river, don’t always do it at the same place at the same time. A crocodile can learn your pattern and arrange to “meet you” after figuring out where and when to next find you near the water’s edge.

Our Other Crocodile Pages:

About Australia's Crocodiles
An interview with a Crocodile Trainer
An Interview with a Croc Bite Victim

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