A crocodile can run as fast as 17 kilometers per hour or 11 mph. The fastest species of crocodile is the Australian freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni).
When a crocodile runs, it is instead a gallop. This is because the fastest way by which a crocodile can move is what scientists call the gallop.
Why do Crocodiles Run?
Crocodiles run if they are in danger, or when they are hunting.
The quick gait we see in crocodiles happens typically when the crocodile is running for its life.
Recent studies show that there are more than 37 species of crocodiles and alligators that can run.
When crocodiles run, it’s called galloping. They typically reserve a full gallop for fleeing from danger or attacking.
Are Crocodiles Faster on Land than in Water?
Crocodiles are faster in the water than they are on land. They can swim at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour or 32 km/h, whereas they can only run at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour or 17 km/h.
Crocodiles swim like a fish, propelling themselves forwards with their tail.
In water, the crocodile uses its limbs like rudders to steer, and for stabilization. As the crocodile increases in speed, it folds its limbs to reduce drag.
To gain momentum, the crocodile also undulates its body in a rhythmic pattern with its tail. This undulation from side to side helps in getting more speed for the same amount of effort. To steer at fast speeds while swimming, the crocodile uses its head.
Read More: How Fast Can Crocodiles Swim?
Do Crocodiles Chase Prey on Land?
It’s rare for crocodiles to chase their prey on land. Crocodiles are lazy, and they do not even like prey that puts up a fight. Despite being fast on land, they are not as versatile as other animals.
Many animals can easily outrun a crocodile, including humans. An old myth says that a human must run on a zigzag pattern to escape a croc’s chase.
There is a nugget of truth in this myth. Crocodiles are poor at maneuvering themselves on land. As such, it is a piece of good advice to do the zigzag run. However, a human can also escape without doing it. Most humans are simply faster on land than a crocodile.
Crocodiles are ambush hunters. They prefer that their prey come to them. It is why they lurk in the water, waiting for the prey to take a drink while hiding out of sight of both their prey and any potential predators that would eat the crocodile.
How do Crocodiles Move?
The crocodile has six modes of movement or locomotion. These are:
- Belly crawl
- High walk
The first three are pretty much self-explanatory, so this section will discuss the last three.
The belly crawl is a movement where the belly does not leave the ground. The crocodile moves slowly and can reach a maximum of 10 kilometres per hour. In this movement, the crocodile moves like a snake, with the support of its limbs.
In a high walk, the crocodile stands on all four legs. It lifts its entire body, including about half its tail, off the ground. From here, the crocodile moves its legs to propel itself forward. They walk as other four-limbs animals do.
The high walk is slow, and they can only move about four kilometers per hour. However, if they decide to go faster, they can do short bursts at a maximum of five kilometers per hour.
The fastest that a crocodile can move on land is through the gallop. When they do this, it seems as if they are jumping.
When a crocodile gallops, it jumps from its hind legs and lands on its front legs. Once the back legs touch the ground, they jump again.
Do Crocodiles Travel by Land?
Crocodiles can travel by land. Experiments show that they can migrate back to their original location. They do this by both land and water travel.
In the study, the scientists found out that saltwater crocodiles translocated to the Northern Territory of Australia found their way back to their original capture sites.
This makes it more difficult for humans to manage crocodiles. If they get relocated to make it safe for human beings, they will just come back.
Read More: Do Crocodiles Hibernate?
Summary: How Fast Can a Crocodile Run on Land?
Crocodiles are fast swimmers and are also fast runners. They can run as fast as 11 miles per hour, and they do this to run away from danger. Usually, crocodiles run and head towards the water to feel safer.
Crocodiles have three main ways to move on land. These are belly-walk, gallop, and the high walk. Both the high walk and the belly walk are slow movements, which they use if they are just moving around, like building a nest.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.