Crocodiles fascinate me. They fill me with complete awe, yet also terrify me. As someone who loves to fish, I’ve always wondered what the chances are of a crocodile jumping out of the water at me. We’ve all seen those social media videos of crocodiles suddenly lunging onto land… but how much of a danger is this?
To find out I spoke to an expert who knows a thing or two about crocodiles so is perfectly placed to tell me whether they do jump out of the water, including how high.
Can crocodiles jump out of water? Yes, crocodiles can jump out of water. Several species of crocodiles have been observed jumping out of the water while in pursuit of prey. There are even reports of large crocodiles jumping into boats.
You might have thought it was just a rumor about crocodiles being able to jump out of the water, but it appears to be true. Now I know that crocodiles can jump in water, here’s why they display this behavior.
Scroll down to also find out how high crocodiles can jump out of water and what you need to know about them getting into boats.
How high can crocodiles jump out of water?
Typically, when jumping out of the water in a vertical direction, crocodiles can reach a maximum height of around 5 feet at the highest point. This behavior has been well documented by certain scientists specializing in the study of crocodiles.
In fact, there’s a video online which shows just how high a crocodile can jump out of the water. It’s both amazing and terrifying at the same time. Watch it below.
What’s the highest a crocodile has jumped out of water?
If you watch the video, it’s not surprising to hear that there are reports of crocodiles jumping as high as 8 to 10 feet, especially at tourist destinations.
Most of these reports should be deemed inaccurate as they tend to come from overzealous tourists or tour guides getting carried away. At the most, a particularly agile and smaller crocodile might well be able to reach 6 feet out of the water – which of course makes it possible for them to jump into boats.
Before I get onto that though, just a little more about crocodiles leaping from water. Although crocodiles can jump out of the water, they cannot leap out of the water in the same way that dolphins, sharks, whales, and other aquatic animals can.
Typically, these species will get a running start from below the surface and then use their momentum to propel themselves several feet out of the water, either in pursuit of prey or for their own enjoyment.
Crocodiles simply don’t have the same physical advantages as others do when it comes to being able to jump out of water. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.
Crocodiles prefer to sit on the surface of the water and wait for their prey to make an appearance in the overhanging canopy.
Once they have spotted their unsuspecting victim (usually a monkey or a bird that’s taking a nap or hopping around in the vegetation) they will tip their head back and propel their entire body into the air to snap at their prey.
You wouldn’t guess it looking at one, but crocodiles have incredible eyesight and can judge distances with pinpoint accuracy. This has a lot to do with the unique design of their eyes which work in much the same as binoculars – like humans, their visual fields combine to make one image, allowing them to target their victim with superb accuracy.
Why do crocodiles jump out of water?
As I mentioned previously, crocodiles will jump when attacking prey on the land or in the water. However, they may also jump (or lunge) as a warning when they feel threatened or cornered. This behavior typically happens when people venture too close or stumble across their path by accident – for example, near the side of water.
Younger crocodiles are more likely to jump than their older counterparts. Why younger crocodiles enjoy jumping so much is unclear, but experts have theorized that this behavior probably stems from their curiosity and inexperience.
Some younger crocodiles have even been observed jumping in the air to catch small bugs like dragonflies or mammals like flying fox bats.
What’s more, younger crocodiles can completely exit the water when jumping vertically, a feat that older and heavier-bodied crocodiles are unable to do. Although older crocodiles will still jump, they will do so rarely and will struggle to push their whole body out of the water when they attempt this feat.
Adult crocodiles often reach similar heights to younger crocodiles due to the bigger size and length of their body.
Can crocodiles jump into boats?
Yes, crocodiles can jump into boats. However, most crocodiles will try to avoid boats as their propellers can quickly kill or injure them if they venture too close. The noise will also scare them off, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
When a crocodile does jump into a boat, it’s usually by accident or when it’s attracted to fish stored onboard the vessel. Often, these incidents result in zero casualties and both humans and crocs typically escape without injury.
However, despite this, there have been several cases of people capsizing their boats in panic and drowning.
A recent news article in USA Today reported on an incident in Australia:
Four fishermen in Australia were fortunate to have escaped serious injuries last weekend when a large crocodile jumped into their boat and began to bite one of the seats. The bizarre incident occurred at night on April 24 in Kakadu National Park, apparently after the men had stopped on the South Alligator River to cook dinner aboard the vessel.
Thankfully none of the men were seriously injured.
Can crocodiles jump on land?
Crocodiles can jump on land, although it’s not that common for them to do so. A crocodile’s jump on land or out of the water is more of a forward lunge than an actual jump. Most species of crocodile choose not to (or are unable) to launch themselves vertically when on land.
The chances are you’ve probably seen this lunging behavior in a documentary – think of the classic scene of a crocodile or alligator attacking a water buffalo and its young that have strayed too close to the river.
The reason crocodiles can launch themselves like this is due to their legs being incredibly strong. With their feet planted firmly on the ground, they can generate enough force to lunge forward at high speed.
Handy Hint: I’ve written more about crocodiles jumping on land in another article, so please click that link to see examples and statistics.
How fast can crocodiles run?
Let’s say that the nightmare scenario happens, and a crocodile jumps out of the water and comes after you. Will you be able to outrun a croc?
With their short stubby legs and fat bodies, crocodiles don’t look like the fastest animals ever. However, in a short race with a person, they would probably win nine times out of ten.
This is because most large crocodiles (such as the Nile, American, and Saltwater species) are fast enough to reach speeds of around 15 to 22mph at a full pace.
In comparison to this, the average person can only run between 10 to15 mph, and that’s on a good day!
However, there are other things to take into consideration when it relates to a crocodile’s ability to outpace a human.
Firstly, crocodiles are normally unable to run on land for more than several body lengths. Although crocodiles have been observed sprinting for distances up to 100ft, their bodies aren’t suited to this type of pace, and they will give up on a chase relatively quickly.
Instead, crocodiles prefer to ambush their prey by lying in wait at the edge of a riverbank.
So, providing you have a head start, you should be okay running away.
Statistics relating to crocodile attacks
If you are scared about a crocodile jumping into your boat or out of the water, let me put your mind at ease a little.
According to the Guardian website, you are more likely to be killed by a falling ladder:
While there has been a large increase in attacks overall, in context a crocodile strike is still a very rare occurrence. For example, in 2011, you’d have more to worry about from the common ladder – 34 people died as a result of falling from a ladder, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and no one died from a crocodile attack. The number of fatal attacks also hasn’t increased significantly, despite the large increases in both the human and crocodile population since 1971.
If you own a boat and travel on crocodile infested waters, you always need to accept the risk of a crocodile jumping into the boat. Similarly, don’t think that you are safe leaning over the water.
If a crocodile thinks you are prey or a threat, it’s very possible they could jump out of the water and injure you.
You might also like…
- What your chances of keeping a croc’s mouth closed are
- The truth about crocodiles sleeping underwater or on land
- Don’t leave a donkey and horse alone on a romantic evening
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/animal-background-big-crocodile-1822645/