How Many Teeth Do Saltwater Crocodiles Have?
If you dare to get close enough, you can probably count for yourself, however we do not recommend this. Thankfully we have the answer, so there’s no need to get up, close and personal with any crocodile species. The saltwater crocodile is an apex predator sitting at the top of the food chain, so it’s no wonder you’re thinking “How many teeth do saltwater crocodiles have”. They’re known for their immense jaw power and locking grip, which is assisted by interlocking teeth also, making it nearly impossible for prey to escape once caught.
So how many teeth do saltwater crocodiles have?
If you’ve ever seen a saltwater crocodile in real life, or even just seen a picture, you’ll know that the saltwater crocodile has many teeth which spike out in all directions from both its upper and lower jaw. On average saltwater crocodiles have 66 teeth. Give or take a few due to loss when hunting, as this is very common also.
Saltwater crocodiles commonly have 18 teeth on each side of the upper jaw, and 15 teeth on either side of the lower jaw. They are evenly spread which allows for the upper jaw teeth to interlock with the lower jaw teeth when closed shut, creating a strong grip which is impossible to escape.
Crocodiles teeth are often lost through hunting and fighting, but unlike humans who only have two sets of teeth, crocodiles replace their teeth every 20 months. Yes, that’s right, every 20 months a new set of teeth will replace the current set of teeth, and they simply just fall out. This happens throughout their whole life, so there is no limit to how many sets of teeth they can go through. It all depends on how old they live. Usually once a crocodile reaches 50 years of age the teeth replacement process slows down. They may only replace their teeth every 3-4 years after this age.
The reason for this is because saltwater crocodile teeth have much thinner enamel layers than humans and many other hard biting animals. This means that a crocodiles teeth aren’t very well protected. So in turn, they have to replace their teeth on a regular basis as the strength of them weakens over time, with the lack of enamel.
Is this the same across all saltwater crocodile species?
No, not exactly. There are some species of crocodiles which have very different jaw layouts and sizes. For example the Dwarf crocodile species has roughly 10% less teeth, which rarely exceeds 60 per individual. This is due to them naturally being smaller in size, so their jaws simply can’t accommodate any more teeth.
On the flip side, the Gharial crocodile species can have to up 110 teeth, which is roughly and 80% increase on the average. Their extra extended jaws compose loads on relatively small teeth, which means they can accommodate more teeth.
Saltwater crocodiles teeth are naturally much bigger in size than its cousins teeth. I would assume that if they did have the same sized teeth, then they could accommodate hundreds of teeth in their luges jaws.
So how big are saltwater crocodile teeth?
Crocodiles are amongst the largest predators in the world, so it’s not difficult to believe their teeth are also some of the largest. Specially amongst the reptile species. Saltwater crocodiles have heterodont dention teeth. This means that each tooth is a different shape and size, which also varies for each individual. Usually teeth are identical from from to back, on each side of the jaw. This isn’t the case for crocodiles. Their teeth grow to different shapes and sizes along the length of their jaw.
Crocodiles have huge canine teeth which can exceed 4 inches in the larger species of crocodiles. Hatchling crocodile have very shape teeth which vary in length to no more than a quarter inch in size. To get a gauge of size, if humans had teeth the size of crocodiles, then we would only be able to accommodate 2 teeth in our mouths.
How sharp are saltwater crocodile teeth?
Saltwater crocodiles teeth are designed to penetrate its prey skin and hold on, rather than to cut and chew. Basically, a crocodile will commonly capture its prey in its jaws and retreat back to the water and drown its prey. After the capture and killing, a crocodile will rip off chunks of meat and swallow them with very little chewing. For this reason saltwater crocodiles have very accustom teeth. They are neither sharp nor blunt, but rather smooth with pointed ends.
When thinking about sharp teeth, the best example I can give you is in comparison to sharks teeth. They have razor sharp teeth, which slice through its prey. Sharks are capable of biting straight through their prey, tearing off huge chunks with each bite, very easily. This is because in the water a shark does not have any resistance, so cannot tear flesh that easily. Where as crocodiles can use the earths ground in shallow waters as resistance to tear and tug at their prey.
Fun Saltwater Crocodile Facts You May Not Know
1 ) Did you know that saltwater crocodiles sometimes eat stones
No. Well you’re not alone, as this is one fact that seems to amaze people every time I have told them. Whilst eating some foods crocodiles will purposely swallow stones which aids in the grinding and breaking down of food in their stomachs. The stones will grind the food down within the stomach into smaller pieces which can be further digested. This enables a crocodile to gain all the mineral and nutrients its needs faster than the natural break down process. Once the crocodile has finished eating, it will pass too stones as a waste product, to rid them from its stomach.
2) Saltwater Crocodile tears are real
Crocodile tears are real, and crocodile cry every time they eat. Unlike humans, where tears arise from emotions, crocodile tear are expressed when eating due to the amount of air they swallow in the process. The air which is swallowed is pushed past the lachrymal glands, which then in turn squeezes out water, forming tears.
3) Saltwater Crocodiles don’t have sweat glands
Crocodiles have no means to cool themselves, apart from being in the water. So when they are basking in the sun (Like all reptiles do), they will open their mouths to cool themselves, letting the heat out, or cool air in.
4) Roughly 98% death rate as babies
It’s been recorded to believe that up to 98% of crocodiles will be eaten as babies by larger animals. Female saltwater crocodiles can lay up to 80 eggs and will only mother them for the first 3 months. After this time they have all the life skills needed to fend for themselves. Usually only a small number will live to see adulthood.
5) Saltwater crocodile jaws are only powerful when closing
Did you know that saltwater crocodile jaws are only powerful when they bite? A saltwater crocodile bite can be as powerful to upwards of 3500psi. This may not mean a lot to you, but humans exert a maximum of 126psi when we bite down hard. Which means saltwater crocodile bite is roughly 2700% more powerful than your own bite.
However when a crocodile tries to open its mouth, it can’t do so with anywhere near as much force. You could hold a crocodiles mouth shut with your own hand strength, although trying to prise opens its mouth would be impossible.
6) Saltwater crocodile bark
Yes, you heard it right. Saltwater crocodiles communicate using a variety of sounds which includes barking, growling, hissing and sometimes even chirping. These are mainly used to communicate to their mothers at a young age, and tend to become less vocal as they grow older.
7) Saltwater crocodiles don’t like deep water
Saltwater crocodiles rarely dive to depths any deeper than 3 metres. In fact, in most cases this would be an absolute maximum. Studies have shown that saltwater crocodiles usually only swim between 0.4 – 0.6 metres below the waters surface.
Well there you have it, everything you need to know on, “How many teeth do saltwater crocodiles have”. Saltwater crocodiles have on average 66 teeth which are composed on the upper and lower jaws. Commonly they will have 18 teeth on each side of the upper jaw, and 15 teeth on either side of the lower jaw.
This many vary from each individual as they commonly loose their teeth whilst eating and fighting. But this is no fear as they replace their teeth every 20 months, so it won’t be Lon until they have a full set of teeth again.