13 Facts On Crocodile Walking: How, How Fast, Where, When

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13 Facts On Crocodile Walking: How, How Fast, Where, When

Crocodiles are pretty pre-historic, but we cannot deny that they are the most advanced reptiles on earth. Also, they are one of the toothiest reptiles out there. And yes, they can swim as well as walk.

Did you know that crocodiles can move in six distinct ways? And you thought they only swim in the water and crawl on land. But in actuality, this toothy reptile can swim, crawl, dive, belly-crawling, and high-walking. Crocodiles can also gallop over short distances.

Crocodiles are adept swimmers in the water. They move easily and fluidly. On the other hand, these reptiles walk more slowly and ponderously on land.

This post is focused on information about crocodile walking. The hows, whys, wheres, and whens will be addressed.

crocodile walking
Image: American Crocodile by Tomás Castelazo (CC BY-SA 2.5) from Wikipedia

Do crocodiles walk?

Crocodiles are unique in every aspect, from having a four-chambered heart to being one of the toothiest reptiles, and so on. But here, we will focus on if crocs can actually walk. Let’s explore.

Crocodiles can walk on land. But this species is not properly adapted to move on land. As a result, they display a sluggish and pondering movement while “walking.” Remember, walking on land is a cumbersome affair for crocs. 

Crocodiles typically display two different means of terrestrial locomotion: the “high walk” and the “low walk.” These reptiles have strong limbs that aid their high walks for several meters. But crocs usually undertake short distances and precise walks on land as per their needs. 

It is not uncommon to see these reptiles travel distances of up to one kilometer when necessary. Younger and smaller crocodiles are better able to travel great distances. This is the case since their limbs can support their bodies’ weight.

Do crocodiles walk on their legs?

By walking, what we typically mean is using our legs. But is this the same in the case of crocodiles as well?

Crocodiles use their limbs to walk over land. When walking, these reptiles lift their body and almost half their tail off the ground while keeping their legs straight beneath them. However, we must remember that these reptiles do not enjoy walking. Therefore, they tend to avoid walking if it’s not absolutely required.

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This context also demands our attention to the fact that adult Indian gharials, aka Gavialis gangeticus, are the only crocodiles that cannot walk. However, the juveniles still display the ability to walk on their legs. Unfortunately, these particular crocodile species are not well suited to walking by supporting their own body weight. Therefore, they only emerge from the water to breed and sunbathe for most of the day.

How do crocodiles walk?

Image Credits: “Madagascar, crocodiles” by luc legay 
(CC BY-SA 2.0)

So, much to our surprise, crocodiles can actually walk on their limbs. But the question is how do these reptiles actually walk? Let’s find out.

As we already mentioned, crocs walk using their limbs. Crocodiles use their limbs to hold their body high while engaging in this action. In fact, when they walk, their entire body, including the tail’s anterior half, is raised off the ground. However, they walk at a rather sluggish pace of 2 to 3 kph, with a maximum speed of 5 kph.

If necessary, crocodiles can move quickly over land. This is because their limbs are thrown somewhat farther from the body at a faster speed. However, because it would take more energy to keep their bodies lifted for longer, these reptiles cannot maintain the high speed for very long. Furthermore, this capability differs from one crocodile species to another.

When do crocodiles walk?

Crocodiles usually walk on land to hunt or escape from predation. Crocodiles also emerge on land to bask and nest and walk to find a preferable place to settle down. But generally speaking, crocodiles use their gaits to escape danger in most cases. 

Where do crocodiles walk? 

Crocodiles are typically inhabitants of swamps, lakes, and rivers and are mostly found walking around these places. After all, you cannot expect crocs to stroll in a garden just to take a break from their water habitat! 

How fast can crocodiles walk on land?

When camping or swimming, encountering a crocodile would be the last thing, anyone wants. So, it is worth learning how far crocs can walk on land. It will help in being more cautious.

A croc can accelerate to a pace of roughly 2-4 km/h when walking on land. However, crocodilians frequently walk with a sweeping gait at a pace of 17 kph when they need to move quickly on land, usually to return to the water.

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The fastest crocodile species and their respective running speeds are listed here.

  • Nile crocodile: 30-35 km/h
  • Saltwater crocodile: 24-29 km/h
  • American crocodile: 32 km/h
  • Dwarf crocodile: 17 km/h

Remember that crocodiles often employ their galloping motion, which is their fastest gait, to flee from danger. Crocodiles can gallop at a top speed of 19 kph.

Can crocodiles walk in reverse?

Not all animals can walk in reverse, and usually, there is no need for them to walk in reverse. But what is the fact in the case of crocodiles?

Crocodiles can walk backward or in reverse. But crocs hardly use this ability. Nonetheless, when they walk backward, they use the high-walk instead of the belly crawl. 

Crocs usually have no reason to walk backward provided they are not backing off from something- most possibly a danger.

Do crocodiles run on land?

Animals usually run to either hunt or escape danger.

Crocodiles can run on land. Despite having a slower running pace than alligators, they can reach a top speed of 35 kph. To put things in perspective, the fastest a human can run is 24 kph (approx.). However, because they can’t maintain the pace for very long, these speeds are only at their highest during brief bursts.

Despite this, do not assume that all crocodile species move at a 35 kph speed. Various crocodile species move at varying speeds. Also, remember that crocodiles normally run away from danger rather than prey on land.

Can a crocodile outrun a human?

The speed of crocodiles on land is not of real concern. Yet, the news of crocodiles attacking humans is not unheard of. This brings us to question whether crocs can outrun humans.

Most crocodiles can run at speeds of up to 17 kph for brief periods. This is a little slower than the average human speed. Therefore, a fit and robust human can undoubtedly outrun a crocodile.

It is frequently said that Nile crocodiles can run up to 35 kph. Therefore, the outcome can be different if this animal is pursuing a human. But they usually run at this speed when they run away from something and not while hunting. 

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Will a crocodile chase you on land?

Let us tell you that humans are not natural prey for crocodiles. However, sometimes there is news that crocs chase humans on land. But what is the truth behind this claim?

A croc actively pursuing a person on land is uncommon. However, if they do, it might result from an abnormality. Crocodiles typically follow after and pounce on humans out of fear or a misidentification.

But keep in mind that crocodiles revere ambush predation. Therefore, even though a crocodile in pursuit may not be dangerous, their reflexes readily outpace those of humans.

How far can crocodiles walk?

Crocodiles do not cover long distances on land. But if required, they can cover as long as one kilometer on the land surface

Do crocodiles walk underwater?

Crocs can swim in the water. However, the speed limit for these reptiles underwater is entirely different. For instance, a saltwater crocodile may run for brief periods at a pace of up to 29 kph. The fastest human swimmers can’t even come close to this speed.

Why do crocodiles walk so gayly?

Have you ever seen a croc walking on land? These lizards appear to have just had their nails done because of the way they are moving slowly. 

Crocs actually walk slowly rather than “gayly.” They do this because crocodiles must lift their entire bodies on their limbs to walk, and they cannot sustain this weight for very long. In other words, they cannot move quickly for an extended period due to their large bodies. 

Summary

So, this was our take on crocodiles walking on land. These reptiles are versatile and have outlived the dinosaurs. They can swim, crawl, walk, and even run. But they aren’t the fastest when it comes to locomoting on land. But be aware of their expertise in ambush hunting skills. Their reflexes and senses work in their favor when it comes to hunting or escaping dangers. 

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