The Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit is temporarily closed through Fall 2022.

Johnston's Crocodile

(Crocodylus johnstoni)

Overview

Johnston’s crocodiles—which also known as Australian freshwater crocodiles or freshies—have strong legs, clawed webbed feet and powerful tails. Equally fast on land and water, these crocodiles can move at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.

This crocodile is gray or olive-brown with a lighter underside and darker mottling or bands on the upper body, tail and sometimes snout. It has a smooth, narrow, tapering snout and a mouth lined with 68 to 72 sharp teeth. The fourth tooth on either side of the bottom jaw protrudes outward and can be seen when the animal's mouth is closed.

In the dry season, females lay about 20 eggs in sandy hollows, which they protect until they hatch. Hatchlings call from within the egg before hatching. The mother crocodile responds by excavating the nest, picking up the eggs in her mouth and carrying them to the water to hatch.

A Note From the Caretaker

The crocodiles at the National Aquarium are station-trained so caretakers can feed each crocodile separately and keep track of who’s eating what. While the crocodiles are at their stations, it’s also a safe time for caretakers to perform regular maintenance in the habitat.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the Johnston’s crocodile! Did you know that these crocodiles will open their mouths during basking to prevent overheating?

This species is found exclusively in the tropical regions of northern Australia, primarily in freshwater lakes, rivers and wetlands. They like billabongs, too, which are distinctly Australian habitats—lagoons in tropical rivers that stay wet when other parts of the rivers are dry.

Juveniles feed on insects, crustaceans and small fish, while larger crocodiles eat amphibians, reptiles, large fish and land mammals.

Females of this species can grow to about 7 feet, while males can reach over 8 feet long.

This species used to be at risk of extinction because they were hunted for their skin. The population has made a comeback thanks to protection and sustainable farming and is now considered stable, although habitat destruction and invasive cane toads continue to pose a threat to their survival.

Adult crocodiles, hawks, turtles and large fish eat juvenile crocodiles, and monitor lizards, dingoes and feral pigs prey upon nests.

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