NT saltwater crocodiles are more carnivorous than their ancestors, research suggests

Home Science NT saltwater crocodiles are more carnivorous than their ancestors, research suggests
NT saltwater crocodiles are more carnivorous than their ancestors, research suggests

Scientists have uncovered evidence that suggests the diet of saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory has shifted away from marine prey towards land-based animals, including feral pigs.

Researchers at Charles Darwin University compared bone samples from saltwater crocodiles killed around the 1960s, held at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, to those of contemporary saltwater crocodiles.

“We saw that crocodiles back then were primarily feeding on the estuaries, taking up fish, turtles, crabs,” Dr Mariana Campbell, who co-authored the research, said.

“Now they are primarily feeding upon the terrestrial environment, taking up feral pigs, buffalo wallabies.

“We could see that the signature found on contemporary crocodiles, or crocodiles that we see around today, you can see that it’s more that they have been eating upon what we call the terrestrial food web.”

Feral pigs were located in mobs of up to 30.
Feral pig numbers have increased in remote areas across the NT and southern states.(Photo: Local Land Services)

Dr Campbell said an increased number of feral pigs in freshwater floodplains, a reduction in estuarine prey, and more freedom to roam since the end of the crocodile-hunting era all could have contributed to why crocodile diets had changed.

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