Top 10 Largest Crocodiles Ever Recorded

Crocodiles (subfamily Crocodylinae) or true crocodiles are large aquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Although they are big, they suffer from a prevalence of “big fish” stories and over-exaggeration. In the Internet age, photographs of crocodiles manipulated digitally to make the animal look much larger than it is. So, how big the largest crocodiles are actually? Here are the top 10 largest crocodiles ever recorded.

Read more: 20 amazing crocodile facts

No. 10: Puento Noire Crocodile (5.40 meters/17.71 feet)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 10 - Puento Noire Crocodile
Puento Noire Crocodile

This unnamed monster crocodile has been at the center of a number of hoaxes. The fact is, this aggressive Nile specimen was killed in a safety operation near Puento Noire, Republic of Congo. Estimated size: 5.4 meters – 17 feet 8 in.

Current status: dead

No. 9: Gomek (5.42 meters/17.8 feet)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 9 - Gomek
Gomek was a large saltwater crocodile captured by George Craig in Papua New Guinea. When he died, he was 5.42 metres (17.8 ft) long, and weighed 860 kg (1896 pounds). “Gomek”, Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia – wikipedia

Many thanks to Brad: with his comment at the comments section below, I learned about Gomek, a monster saltwater crocodile. Gomek was a large saltwater crocodile captured by George Craig in Papua New Guinea. He was purchased by Terri and Arthur Jones in 1985 and was kept in Ocala, Florida for five years before being sold to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida. For 8 years he wowed spectators with both his amazing nutria-tossing abilities and his even more amazing tolerance of people. Feeders of the large croc were allowed to go into the enclosure and get as close as 1 meter from the large animal (a normally suicidal proximity) without any fear of attack (for another example of a croc with great tolerance of people, see the story of Chito and Pocho). While feeders still used long tongs to feed Gomek, he was generally considered to be a “tame” crocodile and was the favorite of the Alligator farm and people around the nation.

After many years, Gomek died of heart disease on March 6, 1997. By then, he was a very old crocodile, and one of the largest and tamest captive crocodile in existence. When he died, he was 5.42 metres (17.8 ft) long, and weighed 860 kg (1896 pounds) – as confirmed by St. Augustine Alligator Farm – and probably between 60 and 80 years old. There is a tribute to Gomek near his enclosure, which now houses his successor Maximo and his mate Sydney.

Current status: dead

Update October 30, 2017
I recently received a message from Marcus Miller, who worked with Gomek in the past. Here the message below (and his wonderful photo with Gomek). Many thanks, Mr. Miller!

“I saw your article on the 10 largest crocodiles ever. That was a wonderful piece, and if your accuracy concerning Gomek is any indication, very accurate as well. I just wanted to chime in that I had the privilege of working with Gomek, up to around August of 1992. He wasn’t considered “safe” by any means. But you could get away with a lot with him. I used to do the feeding shows without the tongs, holding the nutria by the tail. I also have a photo of myself (the photo below) touching Gomek (briefly!) on the nose.”

Marcus Miller with Gomek, the crocodile
Marcus Miller with Gomek

No. 8: Cassius (5.48 meters/17 feet 11 in)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 8 - Cassius
Cassius was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest crocodile in captivity in 2011. It is named after Cassius Clay, the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016).

This Australian saltwater giant has been claimed as the largest crocodile held in captivity and was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest crocodile in captivity in 2011. He is missing his front left leg and tip of his tail due to vicious fights. He lives in Marineland Melanesia on Green Island in Australia. He was captured in 1987 in the Finis River in the Northern Territory after attacking boats and causing a nuisance.

Cassius is 5.48 meters (17 feet 11 in) long, and is believed to be around 110 year old. It is named after Cassius Clay, the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016).

Current status: alive

In the video above, you see George Craig, the capturer and caretaker of Cassius. He also captured Gomek, one of the largest crocodiles ever measured. The Australian is dubbed as the “Real life Crocodile Dundee”. For years, he captured dangerous large crocodiles like Cassius and Gomek, and relocated them to a safe enclosure – which is good both the crocodiles and the humans.

After the capture of Cassius, Mr. Craig spent 30 years with the giant reptile, and fed him every day. He admits, though, Cassius would eat him given the chance.

Thank you, again, Mr. Marcus Miller, for the valuable information.

No. 7-6: Yai and Utan (5.5 meters/18 feet)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 7 - Yai
Yai, the hybrid Siamestuary crocodile (June 2012)

Yai is an estuarine–Siamese hybrid. It is at the Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo in Thailand. The length of Yai is between 5.5 and 6 m long (different sources give different lengths, I chose to take the minimum).

Yai, like Gomek, has a great tolerance of people. Feeders and caretakers can clean him, and touch him without fear. Even visitors are getting really close to him. In the video titled “World’s Largest Crocodile” below, you can see how Yai is showing no aggressiveness even when surrounded with people.

Current status: alive

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 6 - Utan
Utan currently lives in Alligator Adventure, one of the World’s biggest reptilian facilities.

Utan is also a hybrid breed between a saltwater and Siamese crocodile. He was born in 1964, weighs in at 2000 lbs and is just over 18 ft in length. Utan is found at Samut Prakan crocodile farm, which is about twelve miles outside of Bankok, Thailand. There he was named after the farm owner’s son, Utan Young Prapakarn. He currently lives in Alligator Adventure, a reptilian facility located adjacent to Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, one of South Carolina’s most outstanding tourist attractions.

Although Utan’s bite force has never been tested, it is said to be estimated at about 5000 lbs. of pressure per square inch, more than two tons!

Current status: alive

No. 5: Brutus (5.60 meters/18 feet 4 in)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 5 - Brutus
Brutus the giant crocodile is a tourist attraction on the Adelaide River in Australia.

This massive saltwater crocodile named “Brutus” has only three limbs! It is known to frequent the Adelaide river, Northern Territory, Australia. Brutus is missing his front leg following what is believed to have been a confrontation with a bull shark in the river’s estuary – leaving many people to wonder just how big the shark was.

Brutus is conservatively estimated at 5.6 meters (18 feet 4 in) and weighing about a ton.

Current status: alive.

No. 4: Bujang Senang (5.88 meters/19 feet 3 inches)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 4 - Bujang Senang
The skull of Bujang Senang at the Sarawak Museum (Kuching, Malaysia). Photo: zoochat.com

Bujang Senang was a massive saltwater crocodile and it was living in Borneo. According to the local sources, he was a man-eater (some people even claimed that he had been around and killing for at least thirty years). At first, he was estimated at 25 feet (7.62 meters).

Bujang Senang was killed on May 20, 1992. After the kill, it turned out that his length was overestimated. He was 19 feet 3 inches long (5.88 meters) and weighing over a ton.

Current status: dead

No. 3: Gustave (~6 meters/19.68 feet)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 3 - Gustave
A photograph of Gustave by Martin Best for National Geographic

Probably not the biggest ever recorded, but this large man-eater crocodile named “Gustave” is definitely the most feared beast ever. It is a large male Nile crocodile from Burundi, and is rumored to have killed as many as 300 humans from the banks of the Ruzizi River and the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika! (Note: I am really skeptic about this claim.)

Gustave was named by Patrice Faye, a herpetologist who has been studying and investigating him since the late 1990s; much of what is known about Gustave stems from the film Capturing the Killer Croc, which aired in 2004 on PBS. The film documents a capture attempt and study on Gustave.

Since Gustave has not been captured, his exact length and weight is unknown. In 2002 it was stated that he could be “easily more than 20 feet (6 meters) long”, and weigh more than a ton. Some estimates have put Gustave at 7.5 meters (25 feet) or more in length. When first observed, he was estimated to be around 100 years old in order to achieve such outstanding size; however, Gustave revealed a complete set of teeth when he opened his mouth. Since a 100-year old crocodile “should be nearly toothless” (according to the documentary), he was estimated to be “probably no older than 60, and likely, still growing”.

Gustave is also known for the three bullet scars on his body. His right shoulder blade was also found to be deeply wounded. Circumstances surrounding the four scars are unknown. Scientists and herpetologists who have studied Gustave claim that his uncommon size and weight impedes his ability to hunt the species’ usual, agile prey such as fish, antelope and zebra, forcing him to attack larger animals such as hippopotamus, large wildebeest and, to some extent, humans. According to a popular local warning, he is said to hunt and leave his victims’ corpses uneaten. Also, it was stated in his documentary film that since crocodiles can go several months without eating, one the size of Gustave could afford to select his prey carefully.

The last reported sighting of Gustave was in February 2008 by National Geographic sources. According to the wikipedia, in June 2015, one resident claimed that Gustave dragged an adult bull buffalo on a riverbank. That claim is under “citation needed” status.

National Geographic Channel produced a documentary titled “Capturing the Killer Croc” (watch below), which followed a team led by Patrice Faye that tried to capture Gustave, but was unable to do so.

Current status: unknown, probably alive.

No. 2: Dominator (6.1 meters/20 feet)

Largest crocodiles ever recorded No. 2 - Dominator
Dominator, the saltwater giant

Dominator has never been officially measured but it is estimated that he measures up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) and weighs over a ton. He shares the same territory with another saltwater giant Brutus (Adelaide river, Northern Territory, Australia).

Current status: alive

No. 1: Lolong (6.17 meters/20 feet 3 in) – the largest crocodile ever measured

The largest crocodile ever recorded: Lolong
Lolong

Measured at 20 ft 3 in (6.17 m), and weighed 2,370 lbs (1,075 kg), Lolong was the largest crocodile in captivity. He was also the biggest crocodile ever measured from snout-to-tail.

Lolong was an Indo-Pacific or saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Australian crocodile expert Dr. Adam BrittonNotes 1 sedated and measured Lolong in his enclosure in November 2011, and confirmed him as the world’s longest crocodile ever caught and placed in captivity.

He was caught in a Bunawan creek in the province of Agusan del Sur in the Philippines on 13 September 2011. He was captured with the joint cooperation of the local government unit, residents, and crocodile hunters of Palawan. The giant crocodile was hunted over a period of three weeks; once it was found, it took around 100 people to bring him onto land. He became aggressive at several points during the capture, and twice broke restraining ropes before eventually being properly secured. He was estimated to be at least 50 years old.

Lolong was suspected of eating a fishermen who went missing in the town of Bunawan, and also of consuming a 12-year-old girl whose head was discovered two years earlier. He was also the primary suspect in the disappearance of sea horses in the area. In the examination of the stomach contents after his capture, remnants of water buffaloes reported missing before Lolong’s capture were found, but no human remains.

The crocodile was named after Ernesto “Lolong” Goloran Cañete, one of the veteran crocodile hunters from the Palawan Crocodile and Wildlife Reservation Center, who led the hunt. After weeks of stalking, the hunt for Lolong took its toll on Cañete’s health. He died of a heart attack several days before the crocodile was captured.

Despite his initial aggressiveness, Lolong was remarkably gentle in his enclosure. Dr. Britton writes “This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the effects of capturing large crocodiles from the wild. It’s a phenomenon called “capture myopathy”; the shock of being caught, poked and prodded, and introduced to a completely new and alien environment is a stressful experience, particularly for an animal as large as Lolong who has been master of his domain for decades. It might seem unusual to think of crocodiles as being susceptible to stress, but they’re just like any other vertebrate in that respect and something that anyone who maintains captive crocodiles should be aware of.”

The nongovernmental organization activist Animal Kingdom Foundation Inc., with the cooperation of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had urged the local government of Bunawan to return Lolong to the creek of barangay Nueva Era, where the giant reptile was captured. But, in an ongoing debate, Bunawan mayor Edwin “Cox” Elorde and residents of the barangay opposed the crocodile’s release, arguing that he would threaten individuals living in the vicinity of the creek.

Lolong died in captivity just 18 months later he was captured, at around 8 pm on 10 February 2013. His necropsyNotes 2 revealed that he died from congestive heart failure compounded by fungal pneumonia, lipidosis of the liver and kidney failure.. Here is a video which was shot when Lolong was alive:

According to Dr. Adam Britton, Lolong’s enclosure might not look pretty, but, in fact, crocodiles in the wild call muddy holes as “home”, they just look for any kind of shelter and the basic necessities for survival. So, Lolong was provided with those basic necessities. Crocodiles do not eat if they’re too stressed, but in Lolong’s case, he was eating and seemed settling down into his new surroundings and behaving normally.

Britton also says “Anyone who actually met his caretakers would have realised he was well-loved. You might say they adored him.” He adds: “…there were also financial incentives to keep Lolong alive; he was popular, brought much money into the community, and generated a lot of national and international attention.”

So, despite his conditions look terrible to an unfamiliar eye, he was well-cared.

Britton concludes: “It would have been ideal to leave Lolong in the wild, but does such specious thinking have a place in our overcrowded world? Conflict between humans and wildlife can have major repercussions for conservation (not to mention human safety, which any level-headed human regards as being of prime importance). Yet at the same time we can’t simply remove all wild animals simply because it makes us feel better, or safer. There has to be a compromise, and unfortunately for Lolong he was that compromise at that particular time and place. Perhaps his death can be a lesson for us.” (I recommend you to read Dr. Britton’s great article titled “What really killed Lolong?” on his blog.)

Lolong was officially certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s biggest crocodile in captivity” at 20.25 ft (6.17 m).

Current status: dead

Lolong, World's biggest crocodile, in captivity
Lolong, World’s biggest crocodile ever measured, in captivity
Lolong size
The size of Lolong, the largest crocodile ever measured, to put thing into perspective.

Read more: Lolong on wikipedia

Number 1 candidate: Kalia (Bhitarkanika Park crocodile) (claimed size: 7.01 meters/23 feet)

It seems the Guinness World Record book has accepted a claim that a 23 ft (7.01 meters) giant male saltwater (named Kalia) crocodile weighing 2,000 kg lives within Bhitarkanika Park in the state of Orissa, India, but because of the difficulty to capture such a large monster, the accuracy of the measurement is yet to be verified. There’s also no photo yet.

I am very sceptical about this claim, while it is much larger than any other accurately reported measurement.

Current status: alive

What about Krys, the “Savannah King”?

Krys Crocodile
The only known photo of the Krys Crocodile. Note that the forced perpective was used in the photo, a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear larger than it actually is.

According to a story, a giant crocodile was shot in July 1958 near Normanton, Queensland, Australia. It was nicknamed Krys after the person who shot it. It was claimed at 28 foot 4 inches (8.64 meters). There is also a life size replica of it at Normanton.

The claimed size of Krys is highly suspicious, because it is much larger than any other accurately reported measurements.

Zoologist Adam Britton, one of the biggest experts in the area, and who measured Lolong, the biggest crocodile in captivity, says: “I’ve never counted “Krys” because it’s just a story – there’s no evidence at all to back it up, and it just seems so far outside the maximum possible range for this species that I’d need some pretty solid evidence to believe it. That’s why it never appears in any official statistics.

The minimum acceptable criteria for record-breaking crocs should include a tape measure along their back, because “big fish” stories outnumber accurate estimates by several orders of magnitude.”

Krys , the Crocodile - Life size replica
Life size replica of Krys at Normanton, Queensland, Australia.

Honorable Mentions

Matara crocodile (17+ feet / 5.18+ meters)

November 7, 2016 – A huge crocodile, over 17 feet long, was captured in Matara, Sri Lanka. It was stuck in a canal leading off the Nilwala river. The giant reptile was released back into the river by wildlife officials. (Thanks for the comment, Dalya)

Tawi-Tawi crocodile (16 feet 11 in / 5.15 meters)

Tawi-Tawi crocodile
Tawi-Tawi crocodile

September 9, 2017 – A 16 feet 11 in saltwater crocodile was captured by fishermen in Tawi-Tawi, an island province in the Philippines on Friday morning (September 8, 2017). According to the local resources, a local fisherman first spotted the crocodile on Tuesday, but initially they thought it was a wooden log. But it moved when he approached it. Then he reported the incident to the officials, and an operation has been conducted to catch the crocodile. A lot of fishermen and officials involved in, since the giant crocodile was very aggressive – it wrecked a boat and damaged a number of fishing nets during the operation. Ruben Balcorza of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office of Simunul, Tawi-Tawi said that the crocodile is now under the care of the municipal government.

Killing a crocodile is a crime in Philippines that has a fine amounting to P100,000 pesos (around $2000) and imprisonment of up to six years.

Sweetheart (5.1 meters / 16 feet 8 in)

Sweetheart (crocodile)
Sweetheart at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Image: wikipedia

Sweetheart was a huge saltwater crocodile responsible for a series of attacks on boats in Australia between 1974 and 1979. In July 1979, it was caught alive by a team from the Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission, but, unfortunately, drowned while being transported when he became tangled with a log. The crocodile’s mounted body is now on permanent display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

A 2007 Australian independent horror film named Rogue, about a group of tourists in Australia who fall prey to a giant, man-eating crocodile, was inspired by the story of Sweetheart. But, in fact, Sweetheart was never responsible for an attack on a human.

The largest alligator?

Click to see what is the largest alligator ever measured, and the differences between the crocodiles and the alligators.

The largest alligator ever recorded: Stokes Alligator, Alabama
The largest alligator ever recorded

The largest prehistoric crocodile?

In the prehistoric ages, some animals were much bigger than today’s counterparts – including crocodilians. Click to see what was the largest prehistoric crocodile.

Sarcosuchus
Sarcosuchus was one of the largest crocodiles ever lived in history. Photo: photos-albums.com

Crocodile facts

Click on the link or on the image below to see 20 amazing crocodile facts.

Crocodile pursuing chicken

Notes

  1. Dr. Adam Britton works primarily in the field of crocodile conservation management, biology and behavior. As of December 2017, he is working on a number of projects in conjunction with Charles Darwin University’s RIEL (Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods), including assessing the feasibility of wild crocodile egg harvests in Queensland, studying migratory behavior, and phylogeography of populations. Britton also teaches a VET Cert. II course in Remote Crocodile Management through CDU. He also has a blog about crocodiles: crocodilian.blogspot.com
  2. A necropsy is an examination of a body after death to determine the cause of said death. It’s interchangeable with autopsy but necropsy is typically used when dealing with animal carcasses.

Sources

54 thoughts on “Top 10 Largest Crocodiles Ever Recorded”

  1. Lolz, that Brutus reminds me of crocodile movies. You know, movies where an old guy will tell something about a monster in the river/sea and he’s hunting it for a long time but no success. Some teens would wander and they get eaten one by one.

    1. In northern Australia there is a lot of unexplored country and few people live or ever go there…and I remember reading that saltwater crocs get to around 30 feet up there. After seeing this article, I definitely can believe it. Animals like this don’t die easily, have no real predators, and are good at hunting at sea and on land…not only that but they eat damn near anything.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Well, maybe you’re right. But how many meters are they actually? Who measured them and when? Most importantly, where are the photos? I checked their website, they put some crocodile photos but none of them seemed 6+ meter to me (I am not sure, maybe I am wrong). The reference link on their wikipedia page (marked as [1]) is broken. So, where is the evidence? It is interesting that the Guinness World Records Book is putting this info on their page with such little evidence.

      If I see the evidence, I’ll happily update this post.

      Not related to the topic but their website is ultra-backward, which is a shame, since India has thousands of excellent programmers and designers.

      1. Hey there, really enjoyed this article. I loved crocodiles since I was young. I can’t help but let you know about this croc called Bujang Senang. Check it out, it has a great backstory. And it’s also huge.

    2. Well , i don’t know if i am entirely correct…but recently i visited bhitarkanika and found out from the locals claiming ‘The Kalia’ to be the largest croc in the national park..I asked if they could show me..and with three days of searching found him lying on a distant bank..he seemed huge… but he entered the water quickly…I only managed to get a distant picture from around a distance of 35- 40 metres..hope this helps..I’ll post the pic soon…

    1. Thanks for the warning! Normally I do this every time, somehow I skipped it in this post. I gave the links both in each items and at the bottom of the page, in the “sources” section.

        1. Sarcosuchus was bigger, and has had a stronger bite. But I think it would be an open field. I can say 60% Sarcosuchus, 40% Deinosuchus. What do you think?

    1. Real photo. I live in The territory. Been on the tour rumours time and yes it’s real. In fact this is inacurrate as he shares the same span of river(Adelaide river) with a croc Nick named domintor. Up to 1/2 meter longer and wider. They in fact have the odd fight.

      1. Hi, thanks for the comment. Yes, the current photo is real. I was using (my mistake) a photoshopped photo here previously, taken from dailymail.co.uk. You can see the fake photo here. The 2nd photo is photoshopped at this link.

        And thank you for the info about Dominator! He is absolutely a monster. I added him to the list.

  2. There’s a crocodile called Bujang Senang that was shot dead after killing few locals in 1992 by the local authorities in the Sarawak state of Malaysia on the island of Borneo. It was measured at 19ft 3inches long and it’s bones is on display at the Kuching Museum. Please check this one out.

  3. the two statement below contradicts each other, 1# should be removed if without official measurements.

    “because of the difficulty to capture such a large monster, the accuracy of the measurement is yet to be verified”

    and

    “The minimum acceptable criteria for record-breaking crocs should include a tape measure along their back, because “big fish” stories outnumber accurate estimates by several orders of magnitude.”

    1. Hi Gerry,

      Thanks for the comment. You are absolutely right, and in fact I was thinking about that too. I updated the post accordingly.

  4. The largest crocodile is not Kalia from bhitarkanika it’s was Gauri from bhitarkanika park,Odisha ,India .she died on 2014 And after that Kalia is the world biggest crocodile

  5. Thank for your post,but there’s another saltwater croc that was in the same area as lolong and it was the one to kill and eat
    the missing people.It’s rumored to be 27 feet.

  6. Great post! I’ve been keeping an eye out for Gustave sightings since 2008. I wonder if he’s still alive. BTW, the current Wikipedia on Gustave says that he was sighted June 2015. I gather that you did not find enough compelling data to mention that.

  7. Originally, the crock found in the Philippines was measured at around 23ft, by the Guinness book of wold records. If you get a copy from the early 1990’s the measurements for several types of biggest reptiles, were listed way bigger and longer than today. This would inclued Saltwater crocodiles, Nile crocodiles, American Alligators, Great white Sharks, Anacondas, Reticulated pythons and African Rock Pythons. Even my NJROTC’s book for sizes for marine biology, listed several animals bigger than, what I have seen today.

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