Temporal range: Late Pleistocene - Present
|A female Freshwater Crocodile or 'Freshie'|
| Crocodylus johnsoni|
|Range of the freshwater crocodile in black|
The freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni or Crocodylus johnstoni; see below), also known as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Johnstone's crocodile or colloquially as freshie, is a species of reptile endemic to the northern regions of Australia.
Unlike their much larger Australian relative, the saltwater crocodile, freshwater crocodiles are not known as man-eaters and rarely cause fatalities, although they will bite in self-defense if cornered.
The freshwater crocodile is a relatively small crocodilian. Males can grow to 2.3–3 m (7.5–9.8 ft) long, while females reach a maximum size of 2.1 m (6.9 ft). Males commonly weigh around 70 kg (150 lb), with large specimens up to 100 kg (220 lb) or more, against the female weight of 40 kg (88 lb). In areas such as Lake Argyle and Katherine Gorge there exist a handful of confirmed 4 metres (13 ft) individuals. This species is shy and has a more slender snout and have slightly smaller teeth than the dangerous saltwater crocodile. The body colour is light brown with darker bands on the body and tail—these tend to be broken up near the neck. Some individuals possess distinct bands or speckling on the snout. Body scales are relatively large, with wide, close-knit armoured plates on the back. Rounded, pebbly scales cover the flanks and outsides of the legs.
Distribution and habitat
Freshwater crocodiles are found in the states of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. Main habitats include freshwater wetlands, billabongs, rivers and creeks. This species could live in areas where saltwater crocodiles could not, and are known to inhabit areas above the escarpment in Kakadu National Park and in very arid and rocky conditions (such as Katherine Gorge, where they are common and are relatively safe from saltwater crocodiles during the dry season). However, they are still consistently found in low-level billabongs, living alongside the saltwater crocodiles near the tidal reaches of rivers.
In May 2013, a freshwater crocodile was seen in a river near the desert town of Birdsville, hundreds of kilometres south of their normal range. A local ranger suggested that years of flooding may have washed the animal south, or it may have been dumped as a juvenile.