If you are attacked, what animal has the greatest chance of taking your life? What animal (among others, of course) should you take extreme precautions around?

The Nile crocodile. According to www.crocodile-attack.info, a worldwide database of crocodilian attacks, 5,176 attacks have been documented since 1734. Of those, the Nile crocodile is responsible for 1,323. Of those, 938 were fatal.

Thus, 70.9% (rounded to the nearest tenth) of victims who had/have been attacked did not survive. Therefore, it can be statistically said that if attacked by a Nile crocodile, the chance of death is 70.9%.

Crocodylus niloticus Photo credit: https://toonphotosafari.com/crocs-away-hungry-lions-hunting-dogs-angry-hippos-september-trip-report/

Nile crocodiles are apex predators, meaning they have no natural predators; they are at the top of the food chain. They can exceed lengths of 19.5 feet and weights of 2,000 pounds.

Nile crocodiles have indeterminate growth, meaning they do not stop growing once adulthood has been reached. Rapid rates of growth happen when young, and much slower rates of growth happen when mature.

Evolutionally untouched since the late Cretaceous, it is one of earth’s oldest and well-adapted predators. Domed pressure receptors cover the body, most notably on the jaw. These detect the slightest vibrations in the water, leading it to prey.

When submerged underwater, a thin membrane protects the eyes and allows the predator to see. During unfavorable seasons, the crocodile will aestivate.

The process of aestivation decreases the animal’s body temperature, heart rate to less than 5 beats per minute, and respiration to one breathe per minute. It can survive in this state for more than a year, without food.

Nile crocodile shows off its size and strength Photo credit: https://www.reptilefact.com/nile-crocodile.html

Without question, a Nile crocodile’s deadliest weapon is its jaws. There is no animal on earth with a stronger bite force than the Nile crocodile’s of 5,000 pounds per square inch. If bitten, the force is equivalent to a Ford F-150 pickup on each square inch of the bite.

The Nile crocodile is a stealthy hunter who lies in wait beneath the water’s surface, sometimes for days. When the time is right, it will push off the ground with its rear legs and swish its tail to accelerate. At approximately 39 feet per second, the crocodile explodes from the water, securing its prey in its jaws.

Then, the prey will be dragged into deeper water to drown. Nile crocodiles may kill prey by crushing it in its mouth, depending on the size of the prey.

Crocodiles cannot move their jaws from side to side, thus they are unable to chew food. Therefore, prey must be torn into pieces small enough to swallow whole. Crocodiles achieve this by performing what is called a death roll, in which they hold onto prey and rotate until a chunk rips off.

Nile crocodiles are native to Africa. They are sexually dimorphic, in which males are significantly larger than females.

Gustave is a Nile crocodile who has allegedly killed over 300 people near Burundi, Africa. Presumably, he is still alive to this day. A post on this legendary monster is soon to come.

Click here to watch a massive Nile crocodile swim off with an adult wildebeest: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CM2Op1mvamM.

Few photos exist of Gustave, but here he is in 2004. Look at those teeth!
Photo credit: https://forums.sherdog.com/threads/top-5-saltwater-crocs-ever-recorded.3034841/

What Determined My Answer?

Although there may be no definitive answer, I based mine on two questions about each animal. First, what is the number of reported attacks? Second, what is the number of reported fatalities?

From these two numbers, I was able to calculate a “chance of death” (COD) percentage. Note, the percentage reflects the chance of death (COD) from an attack, not an interaction.

As stated earlier, there may not be a definitive answer. Not all attacks and deaths from an animal can be documented because some incidents go unknown, lack evidence, and are not recorded over time. That being said, my conclusion is based off of databases and statistics available to me via internet.


Sources of information:

http://www.crocodile-attack.info/data/filter-simple

https://www.aboutanimals.com/reptile/nile-crocodile/

https://www.britannica.com/science/indeterminate-growth

https://animals.net/strongest-bites-in-the-animal-kingdom/

https://whatthingsweigh.com/how-much-does-a-ford-f-150-weigh/

https://www.thoughtco.com/prehistoric-crocodile-profile-4047616

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