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Crocodiles in Singapore: Sightings and fast facts

Published on May 5, 2014 2:59 PM

The death of a saltwater crocodile, nicknamed Barney by anglers, puts the spotlight on these creatures that reside in Singapore's parks and reservoirs.

The 400kg, 3.6m-long saltwater croc is probably one of the largest to have roamed wild here in decades. It was found dead on the Kranji Reservoir grounds about three weeks ago.

More saltwater crocodiles - the world's largest reptile and known to be formidable predators - have been spotted in Singapore in recent years. Last year, about 10 of them were found living in waters around the north-western coastline, up from two in 2008. Although common in Singapore waters more than four decades ago, they have been hunted down to near extinction.

They have also been sighted at Sungei Buloh and around Kranji Reservoir.

Some have been seen near Pasir Ris and Woodlands, but these had likely visited from Malaysia, experts said. The reptiles are known to swim freely in the Strait of Johor, and feed and rest in mangroves and freshwater bodies along Singapore’s north coast.

But before you avoid the parks for fear of a croc attack, take this advice from Dr Brady Barr, a reptile and amphibian expert and National Geographic Channel host, who told The Straits Times last year: “The chances of being hit by a car in Singapore are greater than a crocodile taking a bite out of you... but there is a responsibility that comes with living in an area inhabited by them.”

November 2013: A teacher and a small group of seven-year-old schoolchildren on a field trip spotted a croc crossing the main footpath at Sungei Buloh. The croc was just 20m away from the children.
October 2012: A couple snapped a photo of a crocodile at Sungei Buloh.
August 2008: A crocodile, more than 1m long, spotted in a mangrove swamp near Tampines River canal.
June 1995: A crocodile at least 2m long spotted in the Strait of Johor off Admiralty Road.
December 1992: A large crocodile sighted off East Coast Park.
July 1989: Crocodiles sighted in Sungei Seletar Reservoir.

- Stick to designated footpaths.
- Heed warning signs and safety advisories.
- Stay calm and back away slowly.
- Keep a safe distance from it and do not provoke it.
- Once at a safe distance, call PUB's 24-hour call centre on 1800-284-6600 or the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's Animal Response Centre on 1800-476-1600.

- Do not approach the croc if you encounter it.
- Do not linger at the water’s edge or get into the water, especially at night or while fishing.
- Do not approach its nest, as a protective female crocodile may turn aggressive.
- Do not feed it as this makes it associate people with food, encouraging it to approach.

- It is the largest of all living reptiles and the world's largest predator.
- The male can reach lengths of up to 7m and weigh as much as 2 tonnes.
- The female is much smaller and usually does not exceed 3m in length.
- A young crocodile is pale yellow in colour with black stripes and spots on their bodies and tails. This colouration lasts for a few years until the crocodile matures. The colour as an adult is much darker greenish-drab.
- It lives in brackish and freshwater habitats.
- The young eat insects, frogs, crabs and fishes, while the adult eat larger prey including fish, birds and mammals.
- Although generally very lethargic, a saltwater crocodile loiters in the water or basks in the sun through the day, and hunts at night.
- It has the most commercially valuable skin of any crocodile species.
- Mating season is during the wet months, when water levels are at their highest.
- A saltwater crocodile has the strongest bite ever measured of any animal.
- It is listed as Critically Endangered in the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore.