One gets to see a great deal of diversity when it comes to size of crocodiles, with the smallest species measuring somewhere around 3.3 ft. and the largest measuring roughly 16 ft. While that happens to be the average, there do exist some exceptions with some crocodiles easily surpassing the average length for that particular species.
The Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin City, Australia, is home to two famous crocodiles - Burt and Wendel. Burt, who featured in 1986 Australian film Crocodile Dundee, measures 16.7 ft. and weighs 1543.24 lb. Wendel, on the other hand, measures 18.04 ft. and weighs an impressive 1763.7 lb. While these are two fairly large crocodiles, they don't even come close to the biggest crocodile in the world - a 20.3 ft. crocodile weighing a whopping 2370 lb.
Lolong - The Biggest Crocodile in the World
In September 2011, fishermen from a small Philippine village to the south-east of Manila were able to catch the world's biggest crocodile ever! About 100 men had to come together to capture this saltwater crocodile species. It measured 20.3 ft. (6.17 meters) from its snout to tail, and was able to surpass the previous record held by 'Cassius' - a saltwater crocodile from Queensland, Australia. It weighed a whopping 2,370 lb (i.e. 1075.01 kg). This gigantic crocodile was named 'Lolong' after one of its captors, Ernesto 'Lolong' Conate. It is now kept at the Bunawan Ecopark and Wildlife Reservation Center in Barangay Consuelo.
Lolong was measured by Australian zoologist and crocodile expert, Dr. Adam Britton of the National Geographic, in November 2011. After taking a note of Dr Britton's measurements and the evidence provided by the National Geographic, the Guinness World Records officially declared Lolong the "world's biggest crocodile in captivity". Lolong is all set to make it to the Guinness Book of Records in the next edition scheduled to be out in 2013. There do exist some animal rights groups which are lobbying for its release in its natural habitat - a demand which has been turned down by the authorities citing the threat it poses for people in that region.
Reportedly the Biggest at 10.1 Meters and Other Claims
While Lolong is the largest captive crocodile, there have been quite a few instances wherein exceptionally large crocodiles have been captured and killed. One such example is that of the huge crocodile which was found dead in the Bay of Bengal. At 33.1 ft. (10.1 meters), it was believed to be the largest crocodile to be ever recorded in the wild. As it was already found dead, only its head was recovered and measured.
Another skull of saltwater crocodile recovered from the Kanika Royal Family in Orissa, India, is said to have been of a crocodile that may have been about 23 ft. (7.01 meters) in length. This particular reptile was shot dead by the ruler of this region at the Bhitarkanika mangroves. There were two more similar reports about the extremely large crocodiles coming from Australia and Papua New Guinea.
A crocodile that was entangled in a fishing net in the Mary River in Northern Australia in 1974 was recorded to be about 20 ft. (6.2 meters) in length. The fishermen killed it with an ax, and brought back just the head. The wild rangers soon spotted the body and recorded the total length. You can still have a look at the skull which is displayed at the Darwin Crocodile Farm in Australia.
In another claim coming from Papua New Guinea, the villagers killed a crocodile measuring 20.3 ft. (6.2 meters) in length in 1983. Zoologists Jerome Montague and Rom Whitaker measured the skin of the crocodile, and concluded that it was the biggest. They further added that, the crocodile may have been another 3.9 inches or 10 centimeters longer as the skin only gave an estimate of the original size.
The claims that these dead specimen were 'exceptionally large' is based on their remains; the skull in particular. (It is generally assumed that the body of a crocodile is nine times the size of its head.) It is difficult to say whether these crocodiles were actually the largest recorded as their length was 'estimated' - and not measured.
Biggest Crocodile Species in the World
The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the biggest crocodile species in the world today with an average length of 16 ft. (4.8 meters), and an average weight of 1500 lb. It is also the largest living reptile in the world. While some species of snakes measure in excess of 20 ft., none can match the length and body mass of the saltwater crocodile. It was initially believed that crocodiles never stop growing, and based on that it was assumed that the oldest crocodile was the largest. Studies have not only revealed that they stop growing when they are very old, but also revealed that the growth process slows down with age.
Coming a close second is the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) with an average length of 11 to 16 ft. (3.35 to 4.8 meters), and weighing somewhere between 500 to 1,100 lb. Under ideal conditions, some individuals are also known to reach a length of 18 ft. (5.48 meters). Next, comes the Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) found in South America. This species grow up to a size of 9.9-16 ft. (3 to 4.8 meters). Even the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) with an average length of 13 ft. (4 meters) and an average weight of 840 lb at full growth is quite large in size.
Other species which are considerably large include the Slender-snouted crocodiles (Crocodylus cataphractus) of central and western Africa with an average length of about 9.8 to 13 ft. (3 to 4 meters), the mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), which lives in the waters of the Indian subcontinent and surrounding countries, with an average length of 10 ft. (3.05 meters), the New Guinea crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae) of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea which can reach a length of about 11 ft. (3.5 meters), the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) and the Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) - both attaining a length of around 10 ft. at full growth.
Fossil records show that the members of crocodile family which inhabited our planet in the past were more than twice the size of crocodiles we see today. These included species like the Sarcosuchus imperator, Deinosuchus rugosus, Mourasuchus atopus, and the Purussaurus brasiliensis. Though the extant species of crocodiles may not boast of the size of these giant reptiles from the past, one can't deny the fact that they are 'really' big.