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. But how big are they actually? Here are the top
five ten largest crocodiles ever recorded (when I wrote the post, I didn’t know about Gomek; and after I published it, the Guinness World Record book has accepted a claim that a 23 ft/7.01 meters male saltwater crocodile weighing 2,000 kg lives within Bhitarkanika Park in the state of Orissa, India).
Read more: 20 amazing crocodile facts
No. 10: Puento Noire Crocodile (5.40 meters/17.71 feet)
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)
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
Read more: Gomek on wikipedia
No. 8: Cassius (5.48 meters/17 feet 11 in)
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, but in fact Yai and Utan are bigger. He lives in Marineland Melanesia on Green Island in Australia. He was captured 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
Read more: Cassius the crocodile on wikipedia
No. 7-6: Yai and Utan (5.5 meters/18 feet)
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 a fear. Even visitors are getting really close 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
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)
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)
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)
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.
Read more: Gustave (crocodile) on wikipedia
No. 2: Dominator (6.1 meters/20 feet)
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 biggest crocodile ever measured
Lolong was the largest crocodile in captivity. He was an Indo-Pacific or saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) measured at 20 ft 3 in (6.17 m), and weighed 2,370 lbs (1,075 kg), making him one of the largest crocodiles ever measured from snout-to-tail.
In November 2011, Australian crocodile expert Dr. Adam Britton of National Geographic sedated and measured Lolong in his enclosure and confirmed him as the world’s longest crocodile ever caught and placed in captivity.
Lolong died in captivity at around 8 pm on 10 February 2013, due to pneumonia and cardiac arrest, which was aggravated by a fungus infection and stress. Unfortunately, in his last months, he was living not in good conditions and that caused stress on him. Here is a video which was shot when Lolong was alive:
Lolong 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 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.
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.
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
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”?
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 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.”
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)
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 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 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.
Click on the link or on the image below to see 20 amazing crocodile facts.