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Do Crocodiles and Alligators Stop Growing?

Do Crocodiles and Alligators Stop Growing
Crocodile running on grass

Yes, crocodiles and alligators stop growing. Some people say crocodiles and alligators grow indefinitely, but this is only a myth. They do stop growing, but it takes a long while before this happens.

There are studies showing that once these crocodilians have reached their adult size, their growth slows done. Then, there comes the point where they no longer get any bigger than they are. They also get old, and will eventually die of old age.

How come old crocodiles and alligators are bigger if they stop growing?

Crocodile on land
Crocodile on land

According to Adam Britton, a renowned crocodile specialist, the big crocodiles who are also old are those that grew fast when they were young. They go through rapid growth at a young age and carry that length for the rest of their lives.

A good analogy to use here is human beings. In humans, there is a spurt of growth in a person’s teenage years. Then, once that full height is reached, the person stops growing. Surely, some people may grow a few millimeters after adolescence, but this eventually stops.

Of course, there are anomalies in human growth. There are those who suffer froma condition called acromegaly. It is a disorder where the body produces too much growth hormone.There is no detail on whether or not acromegaly happens in crocodiles, but it does happen in cats.

Similarly, with crocodiles, they grow fast when they are young. The growth rate, of course, has something to do with its diet and the abundance of food. If the crocodile has access to a lot of food in its younger years, it will grow faster.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles Have Webbed Feet?

How fast do crocodiles and alligators grow?

Saltwater Croc

Both crocodilians start as an egg. Crocodiles emerge from the egg at about 1 foot in length. Alligators on the other hand, are smaller. They hatch between six and eight inches.

Within two years, many of these crocodilians grow up to one meter or three feet. The first ten years of a crocodile’s life are marked by rapid growth and development. Once a crocodile hits this age, it may be at least 10 feet in length.

Once crocodiles and alligators reach the age of sexual maturity, which is between 10 and 15 years, their growth rate declines. On average, crocodiles, alligators, and many animals stop growing at the age of 35. Some crocodiles and alligators stop growing at the age of 25.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles Sleep?

Who are the biggest sizes of crocodiles and alligators?

Large crocodile
Large crocodile

The biggest crocodile ever caught was Lolong. He was the biggest saltwater crocodile that measured 20.24 feet long, or 6.17 meters. Lolong was held in captivity for people to see. He eventually died of pneumonia in 2013.

The second-largest crocodile ever caught was Dominator. The thing is that he was never officially measured. The claim was that he was 20 feet or 6.1 meters in length and that he weighed over a ton. Dominator was found in Adelaide River in Australia. 

For alligators, the largest ever caught was one that was found in 1890 in Louisiana. It was a Marsh Island alligator, and it measured 19.2 feet in length and weight 2,000 pounds.

This alligator was captured and killed in Vermillion Bay. Many experts agree that this claim is hard to verify.

In the History Channel show Swamp People, one alligator hunter managed to capture an alligator that weighed 522 pounds and 12 feet in length. He caught this alligator on his own.

Related Article: What Color Are Alligators Eyes?

Who are the oldest crocodiles and alligators?

Saltwater Crocodile

The world’s oldest crocodile is Henry. It is a Nile crocodile that is 120+ years old. Henry lives in South Africa in a preserve.

People say that he was born in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. It was back in 1903 when he was captured. Tribesmen said that this crocodile terrorized them. There were claims back then that Henry ate humans.

One of the people in the Botswana tribe called for the help of Sir Henry to capture it. Sir Henry was an elephant hunter.

Right now, Henry weighs 500 kilograms or about 1,100 pounds. He is 16 feet long, and he has fathered at least 700 offspring.

The world’s oldest alligator is Muja. This alligator is in Belgrade Zoo, and it is the oldest known alligator in captivity. Muja arrived at the zoo back in 1937.

Muja is an American alligator, and its age was unknown back in 1937. The estimate is that was already around ten years old at the time it arrived in the zoo.

This estimate was based on Muja’s size and the growth rates of alligators. As of this time, Muja’s estimated age is 95 years old, presuming that he was hatched in 1927.

Related Article: Where Do Alligators and Crocodiles Go at Night?

Do crocodiles and alligators feel old?

Crocodile eating fish
Crocodile eating fish

Well, they do not “feel” old because they have no emotions. They do, however, feel the effects of getting old. Contrary to what people say, crocodiles do die of old age.

There was one contention saying that crocodile age cannot be determined because zookeepers die before crocodiles and alligators die. Of course, this is silly.

Zoos keep a record of their animals from birth to death. Even if the zookeepers have already died of old age, the next generation of zookeepers has a record of how old the crocodile or alligator is.

Once the crocodile or alligator is really old, it will die. Zookeepers know that no matter how much you care for a crocodile or alligator, it will eventually succumb to death.

Are crocodiles and alligators immortal? No, crocodiles and alligators are not immortal. It is another myth that people told because they had no accurate date to rely upon.

Summary

Crocodiles and alligators stop growing. Once they hit sexual maturity, which is about 10 or 15 years, their growth rate declines. If they did not grow big at this point, they would not become giants. Crocodiles and alligators stop growing between the age of 25 and 35. It is a myth when people say that crocodiles and alligators do not stop growing. Giant crocodiles are like that because they grew too fast and too much when they were young.

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