As a lot of people may know for the last 10 years my family and I have had a "pet" saltwater crocodile.
At the age of 2 he was rescued from a leather farm in Darwin and has lived with us ever since.
Now that he is getting bigger it is time for him to move on to a larger, more suitable home before eventually being released into the wild. Currently he is approximately 3m long and weighs 300 kg (660 lbs) which, while large, is only around half of the size he could reach and 1/3 the weight.
Currently it is winter so he is spending most of his time hiding in his extra heated underground pool. Kept at a balmy 33 degrees celcius he leaves only to feed.
Saltwater crocodiles are a fearsome creature that command respect. They are aggressive, defensive and have 0 sense of mercy or emotion. If you enter their home or hunting ground they will attack you, if they cannot eat you they will drag you to their lair and leave you to rot a little before tearing chunks. When they attack they do not necessarily kill their prey and sometimes the helpless creature lies helpless and injured in the lair before the crocodile eats them or they succumb to their wounds.
To replace young Billy Beechworth wildlife stays is taking on 3 juvenile freshwater crocodiles. At around 30cm long each and only a couple of kilos they are surprisingly cute for something that grows to be an elite hunter.
(Billy when he was young playing with the family cat Mr. Bigglesworth.)
Key differences between fresh and saltwater crocodiles.
Freshwater crocodiles grow to a maximum of 3m for males ad 2m for females.
There are no reported unprovoked attacks from freshwater crocodiles however every year multiple attacks are recorded by salties.
Freshies have smaller thinner snouts compared to a salty who's is broader and more powerful.
We will be able to hand feed the freshwater crocodiles as opposed to staying as far away as possible from Billy.
It's going to be much easier for us to handle them, check them and generally care for them than it is for billy which, when cleaning his enclosure becomes a minimum 3 person job. We will be able to handle these ones without a huge risk of personal injury. Of course they are still a wild animal but their temperament is far better than that of their salty friends.
We will be throwing a goodbye party for Billy and while I don't feel quite the emotional attachment I do for some of our other animals I will definetly miss him. He is an awesome powerful creature who commands respect and attention. I hope he grows large and old and returns to his home in the wild when it is time but for now I will spend the next few weeks feeding and appreciating this awesome creature as much as I can.
Goodbye Big boy, I wish you a long and happy life.