Growing up in Australia, one of the first things you learn about is how dangerous our animals can be. Whether you’re out west dealing with snakes, up north dealing with crocodiles, or frankly anywhere dealing with spiders, we’re warned to be wary.
Given that snakes and spiders are a bit more commonplace Australia-wide, we’re also taught how to avoid them and how to behave if we stumble across one in the wild. But it’s far less often that we’re actually told what to do if we do encounter a crocodile.
This article has been sponsored by Paramount Pictures Australia in light of the new creature feature flick, CRAWL, in cinemas on July 11.
And really, that’s problematic, because it leaves you pretty vulnerable if you happen to holiday somewhere they call home. Given that Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory are particularly croc-heavy areas and holiday destinations to boot, you’ll want to read up.
According to Austin Stevens (TV presenter, herpetologist and author of ‘Running Wild’), “The crocodile is an opportunistic carnivore capable of taking down large prey animals — this includes humans.”
So the next time you’re out for a swim in the creek, you’ll want to bear in mind that the old log in the distance may not be so harmless.
What happens if it approaches?
Avoidance is key
Just like the ex who can’t resist snapping at you, your best bet for evading a crocodile attack is to straight up avoid them.
If you find yourself in an area where crocodiles are known to live, your best bet is to stay out of the water and be prepared to run at a moment’s notice. Salt-water crocodiles in particular can be very territorial, so if you’re in its space, you’re easily perceived as lunch or a threat — and you don’t want to be either.
Most crocodile attacks occur in the water, which is where they have the biggest advantage. As tempting as the water might be on a hot day, risking a swim in known croc areas is a gamble you don’t want to take.
“Crocodiles are fiercely territorial and patrol their proclaimed waterways relentlessly, ready to tackle any intruders, animal or human,” says Stevens.
If you happen to be on land (or you’ve jumped quick smart out of the water at the sight of a log-like snout), you’re going to want to run.
There’s an old wives tale that says if you’re being chased by a crocodile, you should run in a zig-zag pattern. Why? Because they aren’t as fast if they have to turn. But here’s the thing: neither are you.
If you do end up getting chased, rest assured that most crocodiles can reach a maximum speed of about 16km/h. Provided you’re fit and healthy, you should be able to outrun one.
Bear in mind that crocodiles are ambush predators though, and will rarely give extended chase. This means that you’ll have to be incredibly quick to start running, but once you are, the crocodile likely won’t pursue for long.
If you’re unlucky enough to be attacked
If you find yourself in the incredibly unlucky position of having to fend off a crocodile, your best hope of survival is to attack the eyes.
There’s a reason they’re reminiscent of dinosaurs — crocodile skin is thick and armoured, and their sheer jaw strength is strong enough that they can crush bones easily. Not the type of beast you want to tangle with.
The eyes are one of the only weak points you can exploit if you’re facing a croc. Attacking the eyes, ears and nose is your best chance of forcing the crocodile to release its jaw and let you free.
And if a crocodile has you underwater, the best strategy is to keep fighting, nonstop. If it deems you too much trouble, it may let you go.
Stevens agrees, stating that, “Theoretically, should a person be grabbed by a crocodile in water, the only, and very slim chance of survival might be to roll with the crocodile when it adopts the ‘death roll’, thereby potentially avoiding losing a limb.”
“Of course, apart from the tremendous pressure exerted from the reptile’s tooth-rimmed jaws, the victim will also be faced with the possibility of drowning, and one can only hope that the crocodile might release or try to re-adjust its hold to allow for an escape,” he said.
So ultimately you’re not going to want to get yourself into that position — the risk is too high.
Vigilance and avoidance is always best when it comes to crocodiles, and even alligators if you find yourself in the deep south. If you’re still keen on getting up close with snappy reptiles, just pop in to see the new flick ‘CRAWL’, featuring fearsome alligators that terrorise a trapped father and daughter, stuck in the crawl space of their flooding Florida home during a Category 5 hurricane.
It’s in cinemas on July 11, and that’s about as close to these particular reptiles as you’ll want to get.