17 Facts On Crocodiles Swimming: How, How Fast, When, Where


17 Facts On Crocodiles Swimming: How, How Fast, When, Where

There is a lot of curiosity regarding crocodiles and their swimming patterns. Today, we are going to take you through some key facts about this topic.

Crocodiles are semi-aquatic beings who alternate between land and sea. Being in the water helps them cool down after basking in the sun since crocodiles are cold-blooded animals. Besides, they mostly hunt for their prey (which includes insects, fishes, frogs, etc.) in the water, particularly at night.

Needless to say, you may want to know more about how crocodiles swim, where they move around, and how fast they can travel in the sea. So, let us look at some of the most commonly asked questions.

Do crocodiles swim?

Wondering whether crocodiles can swim or prefer spending all their time on land? Let us find out.

Crocodiles swim in the water and can travel long distances by swimming, particularly the American crocodile and the saltwater crocodile. Crocodiles move fluidly through water. However, they also have other means of locomotion which includes galloping, high-walking, diving, belly crawling, and floating.

We must add here that crocodiles are efficient swimmers who swim in short bursts and can travel three times faster than human swimmers. In particular, saltwater crocodiles are quite fast and swim at the rate of 24 to 29 km/hour. On land, they may appear more sluggish, but they are quite fast in the water. 

Image Credits: “File:Marsh Crocodiles basking in the sun.JPG” by Kmanoj is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

How do crocodiles swim?

It is interesting to learn more about the swimming mechanism of a crocodile since they spend so much time in the water. So, let’s see how crocodiles swim. 

When a crocodile is swimming, they place their legs at the back, close to the sides of their body, and then they move forward with the help of their tails in lateral wavelike motions. Conversely, when they are on land, they make use of all four of their limbs and hold themselves high. 

There is a common misconception that crocodiles merely use their tails for swimming. But, the truth is that their front and back legs play a central role in keeping them afloat. They do the job of stabilizers and prevent the animal from losing balance and rolling over. 

Image Credits: “Crocodile swimming up the river” by Christian Haugen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

When do crocodiles swim?

Crocodiles, as you might already know, are not always swimming. Here’s more information in this regard.

Crocodiles are most active at night when they hunt for potential prey. During the day, they are mostly on land, trying to bask in the sun. However, they may venture into the sea during the day if they feel very hot and need to cool themselves down or with the intention of catching potential prey. 

Crocodiles do not have a fixed destination, and they move around for as long as they need in search of food. Also, crocodiles are much faster in water than on land. It is often said that humans venturing out to an area with a high crocodile population should be alert at night since it is then when most crocodiles move around. 

Do crocodiles swim with their eyes open?

Image Credits: “Crocodile’s eye” by Tambako the Jaguar is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Curious to know whether crocodiles swim with their eyes open? Let us together learn more about it. 

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Crocodiles swim with their eyes open, but they have a thin protective membrane that surrounds their eyes and protects them from any external danger, dust, etc. These in-built goggles allow them to swim effortlessly in the water. As such, their eyesight remains intact, and they can spot potential prey or predator.

Although crocodiles also swim with their eyes open underwater, their vision becomes slightly blurry. As such, they mostly remain above the water where their nictitating membranes function effectively and allow them to see clearly.

How do crocodiles float?

Image Credits: “File:Djerba Explore Nile Crocodile floating 10.JPG” by Ad Meskens is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

You may have often seen pictures of crocodiles floating in the water, but if you are wondering how, let us tell you all about it.

Crocodiles retain a certain quantity of air within their lungs that keeps them afloat. Besides, they float by spreading out their legs and using their limbs as stabilizers. Crocodiles possess the unique ability to deflate and inflate their lungs, which helps them float in water and retain their buoyancy.

Needless to say, crocodiles and even alligators are equipped with special lung muscles that allow their lungs to contract and expand efficiently.

Where do crocodiles swim?

Crocodiles are fast and efficient swimmers who occupy different regions across the globe. Here are a few places where they can be found swimming.

Crocodiles swim in the mangrove swamps, rivers, lakes, oceans, and estuaries of different, living in both captivity and in the wild. The regions which they occupy include:

  • India
  • Sri Lanka
  • Australia
  • Central America
  • Africa
  • Mexico
  • East Indies
  • South America
  •  West Indies

We are sure you already know that crocodiles who live in captivity enjoy a greater lifespan owing to the presence of suitable environmental conditions that are replicated and allow them to thrive.

Can crocodiles cross the ocean?

Are you curious to know whether crocodiles can cross the ocean swimming? Let us find out all about it. 

Crocodiles are unlikely to cross the ocean because, despite being good swimmers, they do not have any need to traverse vast ocean surfaces. However, some crocodile species, such as saltwater crocodiles, can ride ocean currents and travel long distances (around 30 miles or more) if needed. 

Crocodiles mostly prefer swimming in estuaries, rivers, and lakes. These regions are more conducive to their natural habitat, and they can hunt for their prey here with ease.

Are crocodiles faster than sharks?

Both crocodiles and sharks are majestic creatures who are also deemed to be fast swimmers. Let’s find out if crocodiles are faster than sharks.

Crocodiles are not faster than sharks in the water. Sharks can travel at high speeds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, whereas crocodiles can merely traverse 15-18 miles per hour. Sharks have a special side-to-side motion that allows them to move quickly, and they swim in short bursts. 

Being able to swim at high speed gives an added advantage to sharks, which can ambush their prey with ease. However, crocodiles are considered to be deadlier than sharks since they attack with the intention of killing and hunting indiscriminately. On the other hand, sharks are less likely to attack humans. 

How fast can alligators swim?

Image Credits: “Alligator Swimming at Shark Valley” by evergladesnps is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Alligators and crocodiles have several similarities. Together, let us understand how fast alligators swim. 

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In water, alligators can easily travel up to 20 miles per hour, making them slightly faster than crocodiles. Both these animals make extensive use of their tail while swimming and are quite agile in the water. As such, although they are efficient swimmers, they may come across as sluggish when moving on land.

Alligators are also faster than dolphins and have a lot of stamina in the water, which allows them to swim at high speed. Conversely, crocodiles are faster than alligators on land. 

Do crocodiles swim in deep water?

Wondering whether crocodiles can swim in deep water? Allow us to tell you more in this regard. 

Crocodiles do not swim in deep water because they do not need to be there. Being semi-aquatic animals, crocodiles alternate between land and sea. A study revealed that the crocodiles are not great divers and the maximum depth they can go up to is only 0.4 meters.

There have been instances of crocodiles going deeper into the water, but you must remember that such instances are rare since crocodiles also cannot see well in deep water. Besides, they cannot stay underwater for long.

How far do crocodiles swim?

Crocodiles are efficient swimmers but whether they can swim far or not is debatable. Let us find out all about this topic. 

On average, crocodiles can travel as far as 30 to 50 kilometers in the sea, particularly saltwater crocodiles, who are known to be better swimmers and can travel hundreds of kilometers with ease in a span of a few days. However, the current must be flowing in their direction for them to travel long distances.

We must add here that although crocodiles can travel a sufficient distance, they cannot breathe underwater for long periods of time and need to come to the surface. Besides, they cannot stay underwater for long as they do not have the right body temperature for it. Also, crocodiles are not deep divers. 

Do crocodiles swim in freshwater or saltwater?

Image Credits: “Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) juvenile” by berniedup is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

If you want to know whether crocodiles swim in saltwater or freshwater, we have all the details for you right here. 

Saltwater crocodiles can swim in both freshwater and saltwater since they travel long distances and can be easily found in areas meant primarily for freshwater species. However, it is rare to find freshwater crocodiles in saline areas. 

Out of the two, saltwater crocodiles are considered better swimmers, and this is why they are often found in various regions outside of their natural environment. However, for them to travel long distances, the current must be in their direction. They usually travel long distances in search of food or to hide from potential danger. 

Do crocodiles swim backward?

Several animals, like fish, swim backward. But are crocodiles among them? Let us find out together. 

Crocodiles cannot swim backward, and neither can alligators. They use their tail to move and can only move forward. However, not being able to swim backward is not a disadvantage since crocodiles are highly agile either way.

When it comes to walking on land, there is a movement termed a “high walk” that allows alligators to lift their body off the ground and walk backward in order to overcome an obstruction or get out of water. 

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Can crocodiles swim like dolphins?

Curious to know whether crocodiles can swim like dolphins? Allow us to delve further into this discussion.

At one point in time, crocodiles were able to swim like dolphins, but with evolution, they have developed different behavioral instincts, and no longer dive deep like crocodiles do. 

That being said, there have been rare instances of crocodiles acting like dolphins and diving deep into the ocean. However, an instance of this was recorded, and researchers and scholars have stated that it is a very unusual occurrence. 

Do saltwater crocodiles swim in the ocean?

Saltwater crocodiles are good swimmers who travel extensively. But do they swim in the ocean? Let’s find out. 

Saltwater crocodiles do swim in the ocean, even though they are not known to be incredible swimmers. They particularly rely on ocean currents to help them travel long distances. Needless to say, saltwater crocodiles alternate between ocean and land since they are semi-aquatic animals. 

As we have mentioned earlier, saltwater crocodiles swim in brackish as well as freshwater regions. However, freshwater crocodiles prefer sticking to freshwater lakes, creeks, etc., and you won’t spot them in oceans that easily. Even saltwater crocodiles cannot stay in the ocean permanently and need to move to other regions. 

Saltwater crocodiles can stay underwater for an hour at most, but there are other species that can only live underwater for 10 to 15 minutes. 


Q: Do crocodiles swim fast?

A: Yes, crocodiles are known for their impressive swimming speed. They can swim up to speeds of 20-25 miles per hour.

Q: Where can I encounter crocodiles swimming in their natural habitat?

A: One place where you can encounter crocodiles swimming in their natural habitat is Banco Chinchorro, a biosphere reserve in Mexico.

Q: Are crocodiles dangerous to humans when they are swimming?

A: Crocodiles can be dangerous to humans when they are swimming, especially if provoked or if humans get too close to them.

Q: Can crocodiles swim in both fresh and saltwater?

A: Yes, crocodiles have the ability to swim in both fresh and saltwater environments.

Q: How do crocodiles swim so gracefully?

A: Crocodiles have a unique swimming style where they use their powerful tails to navigate through water with great agility and grace.

Q: What should I do if I encounter a crocodile while swimming?

A: If you encounter a crocodile while swimming, it is important to stay calm, avoid sudden movements, and slowly back away from the crocodile. Do not provoke or engage with the crocodile.

Q: Are crocodiles considered reptiles or mammals?

A: Crocodiles are reptiles, not mammals. They belong to the class Reptilia.


Crocodiles may not be the fastest swimming animal, but they definitely surpass human beings when it comes to being good swimmers. Besides, they have an intricately designed mechanism that allows them to use their limbs as rudders and keep them stabilized. In addition, their tails are quite powerful and are largely responsible for helping them move forward in the water. 

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