The New Guinea crocodile is restricted to the island of New Guinea where they are split in to a southern and northern population by the mountain range running through the center of the island. These may represent two separate species.
These animals are covered by brown or gray scales with dark bands around the body and tail.
As a carnivore the New Guinea crocodile will feed opportunistically feed on almost anything they find including birds, reptiles, small mammals, fish and insects. Adults also cannibalize young.
They are currently not facing any major threats though some are harvested for trade. Impacts from mining and introduced fish also threaten their survival.
Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.
These animals are colored brown and gray in color with darker bands of brown or black across the body and tail. The banding is more vivid when animals are younger.
Inside the thin snout the New Guinea crocodile is equipped with 66-68 teeth.
Males are larger than females. They achieve a maximum length of 3.5m (11.5ft) compared to 3m (9.8ft) long for females. Their are regular reports of larger animals in one area of New Guinea.
Juveniles primarily feed on invertebrates and small schooling fish.
New Guinea crocodiles are as their name suggests found on the island of New Guinea. Here they can be found in both the Indonesian and Papua New Guinea portions of the island.
These crocodiles exist solely in freshwater. On New Guinea they can be found in a range of rivers, swamps and marshes. In parts of their range they may live alongside the saltwater crocodile.
Population density changes with the the seasonal changes in water density.
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Northern populations of this species breed in the dry season from August to October while southern populations undertake this in the wet from November to April. Mating occurs in the water.
These animals are a mound nesting crocodile. In to this nest the female will lay an average of 30 eggs. Northern populations tend to have larger clutches than the southern. Laying takes place 2 weeks after mating. The incubation of the eggs takes 12-13 weeks.
It is believed that hatchlings vocalize once they hatch and this guides one of the parents to the nest where they can release the young. Both parents often remain close by during incubation and work to protect the nest from predators.
Females may make use of the same nest across multiple years. It is unknown if the same female or a different female uses the nest.
Sexual maturity is tied to length. They reach a length of between 1.6 and 2m (5.2 and 6.6ft) long.
New Guinea crocodiles are semi-aquatic and spend much of their time in the water but can also easily move across land.
They require heat from the sun to survive but if they become too warm they will submerge their body, find a shaded spot or sit with the mouth open.
Most of their activity is undertaken at night.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the New Guinea crocodile can only target young. Potential predators include wild boar, monitor lizards and birds. On occasion sharks have also killed this species.
Adult New Guinea crocodiles have been known to cannibalize younger animals.
New Guinea crocodiles are impacted by mining, introduced species of fish and changes to the floating vegetation which they use to make their nests. Levels of hunting and habitat destruction do not currently seem to be a major threatening factor.
These species were subject to commercial hunting which increased after World War II until a peak in the late 1960s. At present they are managed in sustainable levels to benefit indigenous land owners.
At present the population is believed to include 100,000 mature individuals with the current population believed to be stable.
These animals may also be known as the New Guinea freshwater crocodile.
In 2019 a study was released which suggests that the New Guinea crocodile is in fact two different species. These are found on the North and South of the highlands which run through the center of the island.
The New Guinea crocodile and the Philippines crocodile were previously thought to be the same species but have now been split in to two separate species.
Their scientific name novaeguineae means “of New Guinea.”
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Midori, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wilfried Berns www.Tierdoku.com, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons
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Sci News. 2019. New Freshwater Crocodile Species Found in New Guinea. [online] Available at: <http://www.sci-news.com/biology/halls-new-guinea-crocodile-crocodylus-halli-07646.html> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
Cox, J., 2010. New Guinea Freshwater Crocodile. [ebook] Charlotte, North Carolina, pp.90-91. Available at: <https://www.iucncsg.org/365_docs/attachments/protarea/16_C-9056770a.pdf> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
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Crocodilian.com. 2021. Crocodilian Species – New Guinea Crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae). [online] Available at: <http://crocodilian.com/cnhc/csp_cnov.htm> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
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