WOOO-HOO... THE CROCODILE HUNTER... CROCS RULE!
News Source: 'Littlies' Free Monthly Mag, issue 25, October 2005
By Belinda Warren
Gidday, I'm Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter at Australia Zoo. I grew up with animals of all kinds, and even lived in the Zoo after my dad started Australia Zoo back in 1970, a small reptile park at Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast.
My dad taught me everything there is to know about reptiles – when I was nine, he taught me how to jump in rivers and catch crocodiles at night. Every crocodile at Australia Zoo, some 100 in number, has either been caught by our bare hands or bred and raised at the Zoo. Just for Littlies readers, I'd like to tell you about one of my favourite animals, the crocodile. Wooo-hoo!
Croc or Alligator?
Crocodiles have a narrow snout, while the alligator has a very wide head and snout. They are also found in different areas.
Crocodiles are reptiles. They have four legs and a huge tail, which is half its total body length. This massive tail helps the crocodile to propel through the water and swim as fast as a dolphin, but it does make it pretty hard to get around on land with that big thing dragging along behind. Crocodiles have a long nose and a very big mouth with lots and lots of teeth.
Home of the Croc
Crocodiles are native to Australia, found in northern Australia only. They live in deep, dark, murky water. They can be pretty tricky animals – sometimes a Saltwater Crocodile will be found in fresh water, but not the other way around. We did some research and found that crocs can even live in the ocean. They are also found in Indonesia, Vanuatu, India and the Solomon Islands.
Crocodiles have very small stomachs compared to their body size. A three-metre long croc has a stomach the size of a basketball.
Big family, mate
The Crocodilian Family is made up of four different groups – crocodiles, alligators, caimans (have a predominant bony ridge between the front of the eyes, appearing to join the eyes like a pair of glasses), and gharials (have a narrow snout that becomes longer with age). Within these four groups, there are 23 different subspecies in total!
Crikey, a colourful bunch
Crocodile skin consists of lots of different colours and no two are the same. Colours include black, brown, green, yellow and white. At Australia Zoo, we even have a crocodile who is completely white. His name is Casper and he is leucistic, which means he has a condition where he lacks pigment in his skin, making him white all over. But this is very rare – one in 10,000 crocodiles turn out leucistic.
Crocs love to sunbathe
Crocodiles live mostly in the water, but they do come on to the land to bathe in the sun. Being reptiles, they draw energy from the sun rather than just their food so they like to keep nice and warm and to make sure they have enough energy to swim all day.
Crocodiles can usually stay underwater for three hours before they will need to come up for air. Crocodiles can also swim as fast as a dolphin at full speed.
Wooo-hoo, big eaters
Crocodiles are carnivores, which means they only eat other animals. A small croc will munch on insects, frogs, crustaceans, small reptiles and fish. A large croc can eat large mammals such as kangaroos and wild pigs, along with all of the other smaller things.
A very big smile
Crocodiles can have up to 70 teeth. Crikey, they are so cool – if they break one or wear it down, another one grows in its place!
Crocodiles and birds are relatives of the dinosaurs!
Mate, that’s old!
They live for around the same time as a human – 70 to 80 years.
Crocodiles can’t run on land, so if you stay out of the water and away from the water’s edge in crocodile habitats, you will be very safe.
Australia Zoo, Home of The Crocodile Hunter is your ultimate wildlife adventure! At 70 acres in size and home to over 1000 animals, there is always another exciting animal encounter just around the corner. Wooo-hoo! There is so much to see and do at Australia Zoo, where Crocs RULE! Check it out www.crocodilehunter.com