What Do Crocodiles Eat? Crocodile Diet, Hunting & Food Chain

What Do Crocodiles Eat? Crocodile Diet, Hunting & Food Chain

Crocodiles are one of the most ancient predators that still exist on our planet.

Found in rivers, lakes, and swamps across the world, this apex predator is known for its powerful jaws and sharp teeth.

It is one of the most dangerous animals in the world, and unlike many other predators, it shows no fear of humans. But what do crocodiles eat in the wild?

Crocodiles are carnivores with a wider diet, ranging from mammals to other reptiles and even insects.

These reptiles can attack humans without provocation and should be avoided at all costs.

We will explore the different types of food crocodiles eat, their diet, hunting strategies, and position on the food chain.

What Do Crocodiles Eat?

Crocodiles Eating Wildbeast in Marina River, Kenya

As carnivores, crocodiles consume meat, especially those found around their habitat.

They often inhabit saltwater habitats like mangrove swamps and estuaries, so any prey that stays close is fair game. 

Preferred prey includes fish, frogs, turtles, birds, crustaceans, snakes, and even sharks.

Crocodiles can also grab bigger mammals like wild boars or juvenile elephants. Once again, this reptile is a strong predator and a ferocious hunter.

They are capable of consuming prey much larger than themselves.

Size, specie type, and region all influence the crocodile’s diet. Bigger individuals tend to go after bigger prey.

They’d also feed on whatever meat they find around, and this varies based on where they stay.

One trait remains the same, however. All crocodiles love meat!

What Do Crocodiles in Captivity Eat?

Nile Crocodiles Eating Meat

Crocodiles are not good pets, but they can be kept captive in zoos and aquariums.

Captive crocodiles often live longer than wild ones because they are secure and their diet can be regulated.

These often live between 75 and 100 years, while the wild ones peak at 70 years. 

The dietary needs of the wild individual and the one in captivity are similar, but there are distinctions. For starters, captive crocodiles eat more.

Foods they can eat include fish, raw beef, raw meat, chicken, rats, and mice. 

How Much Do Crocodiles Eat?

The quick answer is that crocodiles eat a lot, somewhere between 2 to 5 pounds in a day.

This is quite similar to the pounds humans consume, and as omnivores, we do not eat nearly as much meat as they do.1

The amount of food a crocodile eats depends on its size and availability.

A small crocodile won’t eat as much as a big one, and an individual faced with limited prey would adapt to it. 

The pounds it needs often fit the body weight. A young crocodile needs to eat like 4% of its body weight, while the older wild counterpart should eat like 5% of its body weight.

Crocodiles in captivity eat more, as we’ve already stated.

How Do Crocodiles Hunt?

Stealthy Crocodile Hunting in River

Crocodiles are opportunistic hunters, and because they are semi-aquatic, they hunt both on water and land.

Rainy months give them more access to fish and other animals that live in the waters.

Dry months make crocodiles stay more on land, and terrestrial prey becomes their target.

As long as they can capture the unfortunate animal, they can eat it. 

Crocodiles camouflage well in the habitat due to their dry, scaly skin and gray color.

Even humans have a hard time picking them out as they look like logs.

This is a great hunting tool for these animals as it gives them a stealth advantage. They’d either sneak up on the prey or trick it.

One way the crocodile tricks the prey is by getting it to perch or climb as if the it is a piece of wood.

Many birds fall for this trick, thinking of the reptile as a good place to rest and find food. 

Crocodiles generally hunt in groups, but it’s not uncommon to find solitary ones looking for the next meal.

Its jaws and sharp teeth come in handy, and it is hard for an animal caught between those jaws to escape the grip.

Its bite force is around 3,700 psi, the strongest ever measured.2

On land, crocodiles can pursue their prey as a land predator would.

These animals are fast—moving up to 22 mph—and their running method on land makes them gain ground with ease.

In water, they may either swim and grab am aquatic prey or drown non-aquatic animals like birds.

Do Crocodiles Eat Humans?

Humans may be at the top of the food chain, but that changes in a crocodile’s territory.

This reptile considers humans as prey and will attack without provocation. It doesn’t just attack, it’ll also eat a human if it grabs one.

As yucky as that seems, it’s a part of nature. As we hunt animals, some hunt us too.

Crocodiles are deadlier than sharks, lions, and even tigers. Big ones can swallow a human whole, while others will decapitate the victim into different pieces for better consumption.

In a year, crocodiles can attack around 1,000 people. The Nile crocodile and other saltwater species are more likely to do this.3

If you know an area is infested with crocodiles, avoid the place.

These animals are faster both on land and in water, and they can ambush people. If you sight one first, turn in the other direction.

Can a Crocodile Be Prey?

Crocodiles are powerful and have few enemies. However, no animal exists without enemies, not even the crocodile.

It has to be on the lookout for potential predators, especially when it is young.

The juvenile crocodile can be preyed upon by wild pigs, dogs, and large birds of prey like eagles.

Because they are smaller, these mammals and birds have the upper hand.

Adult crocodiles can overcome these predators but may fall if attacked by tigers, lions, and jaguars. Humans also hunt down crocodiles for their skin

Crocodile Diet: List of Foods Crocodiles Can Eat

  • Fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Birds
  • Turtles
  • Snakes
  • Frogs
  • Wild boar
  • Sharks
  • Mice
  • Wildebeest
  • Deer 
  • Baby elephant 

Related Questions

Do crocodiles eat lions?

Lions can easily defeat a young crocodile and may even take down an adult, but generally, they don’t take that risk. Crocodiles have been known to attack lions, but they’re given to eating them. 

Can a crocodile eat a crocodile?

Though not common, cannibalism can occur amongst crocodiles. In an environment with limited resources, they can attack a weaker crocodile and eat it.

Final Thoughts 

Crocodiles are truly apex predators, staying at the top of the food chain even over humans.

These predators employ different strategies to capture prey, from stealth to direct pursuit. Do not mess with this reptile. 

References & Notes

Facts Sources:
  1. What are your 4 pounds made of? Precision Nutrition.
  2. Crocodiles Have Strongest Bite Ever Measured, Hands-on Tests Show. National Geographic.
  3. World’s deadliest crocodile attacks with victims torn to pieces, drowned in ‘death rolls’ and cut from stomachs. The Sun.