New Guinea Crocodile

New Guinea Crocodile

New Guinea Crocodile information

The New Guinea crocodile, Crocodylusnovaeguineae, is native to the island of New Guinea where it thrives thanks to successful legislation and management programs based on sustainable farming and harvesting.

New Guinea Crocodile taxonomy

Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Chordata
Class:            Sauropsida
Order:           Crocodilia
Family:          Crocodylidae
Genus:           Crocodylus
Species:         Crocodylusnovaeguineae

 New Guinea Crocodile conservation status

Crocodylusnovaeguineae is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The estimated wild population consists of 50,000-100,000 individuals.

A highly successful management program in Papua New Guinea has led to large and healthy populations of Crocodylusnovaeguineae. The species was over-hunted in the mid 20th century, but in the 1970s protective legislation was introduced and a regulated management program based around cropping and ranching was developed.

Harvesting programs combined with monitoring and efficient law enforcement is currently being set up on the Indonesian part of the island as well.  

New Guinea Crocodile range

The New Guinea crocodile is native to the island New Guinea, which is shared by the countries Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It is believed to have gone extinct on the Aru Islands of Indonesia.

New Guinea Crocodile habitat

The New Guinea crocodile is found in freshwater marshes, swamps and lakes, chiefly in the interior part of New Guinea. During the dry season it can enter the river systems if its normal habitat becomes too dry. The New Guinea crocodile tolerates saltwater but tends to avoid brackish coastal regions and has never been seen sharing habitat with the Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).

New Guinea Crocodile size and appearance

The New Guinea crocodile male can reach a length of 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) while the females stay smaller than 2.7 meters (9 feet).

This crocodile is grey to brownish with dark bands on body and tail. The snout is pointed and comparatively narrow in juveniles but will grow wider as the animal matures. Juvenile specimens have more distinct banding on body and tail than the adults and can be difficult to distinguish from C. siamensis juveniles.

New Guinea Crocodile feeding and diet

The New Guinea crocodile is primarily a nocturnal hunter. Adults feed chiefly on fish, waterbirds, amphibians and reptiles, while juveniles catch insects and various small aquatic invertebrates.

New Guinea Crocodile breeding

The female New Guinea crocodile typically attains sexual maturity at a length of 1.6-2 meters (5-6 feet), while males need to reach a size of roughly 2.5 meters (8 feet).

Around two weeks after mating the female will deposit her eggs in a nest created by her. She will stay close to her nest during the incubation period but will not necessarily defend it. The offspring hatch after roughly 80 days and both males and females have been reported helping the hatchlings by digging them out of the nest and carry them to the water.  

Crocodile populations living in the northern part of the species range are known to produce 22-45 eggs per batch and always lay their eggs during the dry season. These crocodiles typically use overgrown river tributaries and floating mats of vegetation as breeding habitat.

Crocodiles living in the southern part of the range will on the other hand construct their nests at the start of the wet season and place them on dry land to minimize the risk of them being flooded. Compared to the northern crocs, the southerners produce fewer but larger eggs and southern hatchlings are about 5 cm (2 in) longer than northern hatchlings.

New Guinea Crocodile facts

New Guinea Crocodile facts # 1
Crocodylus novaeguineae means “Crocodile of New Guinea”. Within its native range this species is known under several different names, such as Puk Puk, Wahne huala, Buaya air tawar, and New Guinea freshwater crocodile.

New Guinea Crocodile facts # 2
The New Guinea crocodile normally stays in covered areas during the day and seeing it bask out in the open is uncommon.

New Guinea Crocodile facts # 3
Until recently, the species C. novaeguineae consisted of two recognized subspecies: the New Guinea crocodile C. novaeguineae novaeguineae and the Philippine crocodile C. novaeguinea mindorensis. Today, the Philipie crocodile has been acknowledged as a separate species: C. mindorensis.

New Guinea Crocodile facts # 4
Two genetically distinct populations of C. novaeguineae inhabit New Guinea, separated by the mountain range that runs between the Indonesian and Papua New Guinean parts of the island. The northern crocodiles always have 4 post-occipital scales on the neck, while the southern crocodiles can have anywhere from 4 to 6 scales. They also differ from each other when it comes to reproductive habits; see the section about breeding above for more details. The two populations are not recognized as subspecies.

New Guinea Crocodile facts # 5
The skin of the New Guinea crocodile is very expensive, almost as expensive as the skin of the Saltwater crocodile (C. porosus).

New Guinea Crocodile lifespan

The New Guinea crocodile can reach an age of at least 60 years.


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