Crocodiles are among the world's most impressive and powerful predators, with an infamous taste for … well, just about anything they can get into their mouths. We've seen crocs snap up turtles and zebras, and even fellow carnivores like lions and sharks. And as a group of park visitors in Australia recently discovered, crocs aren't strangers to the occasional bout of cannibalism.

Darwin local James McDonald and his friends were making their way along a waterway known as East Alligator River (a misnomer since Australia has no native alligators) in Kakadu National Park, when they spotted a dead crocodile floating in the water – and it wasn't alone.


McDonald caught the scene on camera: the living croc (let's call it Hungry Croc) pushes the Dead Croc around for a while before getting a good grip on Dead Croc's tail and flinging it violently through the air, presumably aiming to tear off a big chunk to swallow. McDonald said in an interview with NT News that the group had also witnessed Hungry Croc biting pieces off Dead Croc earlier in the day.

It's tempting to imagine that what we're witnessing is the end result of a croc fight, but crocodile expert Adam Britton says that would be unusual. "Crocs can be aggressive towards one another a fair bit, but usually the encounters are brief, with one chasing away another," he said via email. "If these encounters do prove fatal, the victor may take a few bites of the loser, but they generally leave them alone."

It seems even more unlikely that Hungry Croc would have killed Dead Croc for dinner. Crocodiles make for dangerous prey, and it's very risky for one of these carnivores to go after another of similar size. On the other hand, Britton points out that there are plenty of even bigger crocs on the river, and Dead Croc looks like it's been chewed up a good bit already. Perhaps Dead Croc got on some giant's bad side, and Hungry Croc was simply picking up the leftovers?

Because the carcass seemed well on the ripe side by the time the flinging scene took place, McDonald guessed Hungry Croc may have left its spoils out to rot and soften – but this isn't really the sort of thing crocs do.

"There is actually no evidence that they cache food, or leave it to rot," Britton explained. "These are extremely strong animals that can rip limbs or flesh off by flicking the head (as you see in the video) or twisting it off by rolling. They don't need to wait for it to rot."



Top header image: Ørjan Lillevik/Flickr