Crocodiles are large and powerful reptiles, and their cousins, the alligator, caiman and gharial, make up the family crocodilian. These amphibious reptiles can grow to great lengths and weigh over 1,000 lbs. But even these mighty predators are not always safe from other animals.
In this article, you will find out what animals can kill a crocodile and what animals will feed on them. These animals can be sorted into three different groups:
- Animals that eat adults.
- Animals that prey on the young.
- Animals that will kill out of anger.
The jaguar is the apex predator of South America. They have become experts at hunting caiman, the smaller cousin of the crocodile. They use stealth, speed and powerful jaws to overpower the caiman. The caiman is easier to find along the dried-up river banks during the dry season.
The jaguar is an ambush predator that sneaks up behind an unsuspecting caiman before launching itself on top of it. Unlike other big cats, jaguars kill their prey by biting through the animal’s skull. They can do this as they have a bite force of 1,500 psi.
Caimans are not safe in the water either, as jaguars are not afraid of getting wet and are great swimmers. They will cross rivers if they can see a potential meal on the other side. Out of all the big cats, jaguars are the only ones to actively hunt these terrifying creatures.
Lions live in prides, so they have the advantage of teamwork when attacking a crocodile. The adults can take turns in distracting the crocodile while other lions bite with their teeth and slash with their claws. By doing this, they can overpower the crocodile, as a lion fighting a crocodile one-on-one would be extremely dangerous.
Usually, lions would only attack a crocodile to protect their cubs. Or if they have made a kill near water and a hungry crocodile was trying to steal their meal.
A leopard would only go after a crocodile if it were severely hungry and no other prey was available. Their jaws are strong enough to penetrate the crocodile’s thick hide. The leopard would use its stealth to sneak up from behind the crocodile before pouncing on top, using its weight to pin the crocodile down. The leopard would only be able to hunt small to medium-sized crocodiles. If they try to tackle anything bigger, they will become prey themselves.
4. African Fish Eagle
The African fish eagle is a large bird of prey with a wingspan of 2.4 m (8 ft). Young crocodiles have little time to react to attacks from above, making them easy prey for the African fish eagle. The eagle uses its impressive vision to spot a hatchling from a distance before sweeping down and plucking them from the water with their powerful talons.
The shoe bill is an excellent bird at fishing, but it helps when you have one of the largest beaks. Their bill is 30 cm (12 in ) long and 13 cm (5 in) wide. They are scary-looking animals looking like a bird crossed with a dinosaur.
The shoebill uses pathways in the water created by hippos getting around. The shoe bill stands motionless, patiently waiting for fish, snakes and even small crocodiles to come close to the surface before swooping them up with its vast bill.
6. Goliath Heron
The goliath heron’s diet primarily consists of fish but won’t turn down the occasional small crocodile. They are the largest heron species in sub-Saharan Africa, also known as giant herons. They hunt by standing in shallow water, waiting for prey to appear before spearing it with its peak.
Once they have pierced the animal, they will move the dry land or floating vegetation where they can position their meal so it slides down head first. As they are slow birds, the African fish eagle and other large birds often steal their kills.
Pythons and crocodiles are similar in considering any animal smaller than themselves to be prey. So pythons will only attempt to eat hatchlings and small crocodiles. Pythons are non-venomous snakes and kill their prey by constricting around the animal’s rib cage. This suffocates the animal. They are great at swimming and will ambush animals in the water.
Pythons are only sometimes victorious against hunting crocodiles as they have no defence to combat crocodile’s attacks. So a python can easily become a meal for the crocodile if it is not careful. Pythons have been known to have eyes bigger than their stomachs when trying to swallow their prey. They will try consuming an animal that is too large for their stomach resulting in their stomach splitting open.
8. Nile Monitor Lizard
The Nile monitor lizard is the largest lizard in Africa. The heaviest can weigh up to 20 kg (44 lbs) and be 2.4 m (8 ft) long. They love eating eggs, so they will seek out crocodile nesting sights they can find. Nile monitors are smart enough to work in pairs.
They take turns to distract the mother crocodile. At the same time, the other lizard sneaks behind and steals an egg. They repeat this until they have had their fill of eggs or they are scared off by the angry mother croc.
9. Goliath Tigerfish
You may think it’s odd to find a fish on this list, but the goliath tigerfish is no ordinary fish. They are also known as Hydrocynus goliath, giant tigerfish or Mbenga. They are large freshwater fish living in the Congo River Basin in Africa.
This predatory fish can grow to be 1.5 m (15ft) long and weigh 50 kg (110 lbs). Their scary teeth are up to 2.5 cm (1 in) long. They will prey on fish smaller than themselves, so any young crocodile smaller than them is on the menu.
They wait out of sight in the shadows relying on their excellent eyesight to help pick out unsuspecting prey. They then use a burst of speed to catch their meal. Even the local fishermen are wise enough to leave them alone. Their only predator are large crocodiles.
Crocodiles will resort to cannibalism when food is in short supply or when there is too much competition between them. Crocodiles will only hunt animals smaller than themselves, so it is the youngest crocodiles that become easy pickings. These young crocodiles are defenceless against adults, and their small bodies will be easy to digest.
Elephants will attack crocodiles at water and holes if their young are threatened with one swipe of their vast tusks that can be 2 m (6.5 ft) long. They can easily send a crocodile flying. They could flatten that crocodile with one stump using their colossal weight and strength.
They may not always succeed in killing the crocodile, but they can cause some severe damage. Elephants are the animal least likely to kill a crocodile on this list, but they still deserve a place on this list because of the massive damage they can cause.
The hippo is the most aggressive animal in Africa and won’t hesitate if they or their young are threatened and will attack without remorse without much care if the animal is a predator or not.
During the dry season, when water is scarce, hippos and crocodiles are forced to share the little remaining water. It does not take long for tensions to boil over, and fights start taking place between them.
The hippo has a massive mouth with teeth measuring 50 cm (20 in) long. And with a bite force of 1800 psi, they have no problem killing a crocodile. This makes the hippo the animal the crocodile is most afraid of.
The rhino, like the elephant, is a vast and powerful animal. An adult rhino would have no problem dispatching a crocodile. They can easily toss the crocodile around with their horns that can grow 1.5 m (5 ft) long. The rhino can puncture the crocodile’s thick hide using brute force to drive the horn through it.
The rhino could also resort to trampling the crocodile to death, as a rhino can weigh between 2,300 – 3,600 kg (5,000 – 8,000 lb). The rhino would easily crush its bones with that amount of weight coming down on the crocodile.