Updated: Nov 10, 2020
An adult Siamese Crocodile basks in the sun. Find the original photograph here.
Status: //CRITICALLY ENDANGERED//
Population Estimate: Less than 1,000 individuals ↓DECREASING↓
⠀⠀⠀⠀Meet one of the world’s rarest reptiles, the Siamese Crocodile or Crocodylus siamensis. Historically found in Southeastern Asia, the Siamese Crocodile was hunted to near extinction for it’s skin in the 20th century now found only within 1% of it’s former range. Additionally, loss of habitat due to the expansion of agricultural rice fields and the illegal pet trade pose a threat to this species.
Poaching continues to be a threat to the species survival despite being protected under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species by the United Nations.
⠀⠀⠀⠀Found in only freshwater, the Siamese Crocodile lives between 25 to 35 years in the wild. Their diet is comprised of a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates, including small mammals, fish, and reptiles. They do not grow larger than 3.5 meters (roughly 11 feet) and can be distinguished by the ridge between it’s eyes. Considered a specialist species, meaning they inhabit a small range and very specific conditions, they are found in heavily wooded freshwater areas, especially swamps and rivers.
The Siamese Crocodile inhabits a very small range within Southeastern Asia. The majority of the wild population is found in Cambodia, but reintroduction efforts have begun in Vietnam. Find the original map here.
⠀⠀⠀⠀The Siamese Crocodile, especially in captivity, tends to breed with other freshwater crocodiles creating much larger hybrids. Hybrid Siamese Crocodiles have been recorded at up to twice the size of normal crocodiles, the largest being measured at nearly 20 feet long. This presents a problem for conservationists as they must check the blood purity of every individual inducted into captive breeding programs to ensure that they do not release more hybrids into the wild. Despite this, Siamese Crocs will also breed with other species in the wild contributing to the urgency of conservation efforts for the species.
⠀⠀⠀⠀The majority of conservation work for the species has been focused on Cambodia where the largest wild populations of Siamese Crocodiles still exist. Re-introduction programs have also been conducted in Vietnam after the discovery of a population at Cat Tien National Park.
Written by — Joe Sweeney
Adult Siamese Crocs mark their territory by slapping their heads against the ground to make a clapping noise.
Ironically, the reason for their skin, while the reason for their decline, is the reason that they are not totally extinct as many Siamese Crocodile farms were created for skin harvest.
Although the most generous estimate of wild population is 1,000, it is much more likely that there is around 250 to 300 mature pure Siamese Crocodiles left in the entire world due to hybridization.
During times of drought, individuals will leave territories to find better areas and join with other individuals developing a new heirarchy.
Despite their scary exterior, individuals rarely fight, but when it does it happen, it is usually individuals of similar size or stature attempting to establish dominance.
How You Can Help
Depending on your donation, your money will go towards the captive breeding program of Siamese Crocodiles to bolster wild populations in Cambodia. Your donation will fund genetic research to ensure pure crocodile breeding, community outreach programs, and the various tools that research teams use in the wild.
People’s Trust for Endangered Species
Wildlife Conservation Society Laos
Scientific American: The Once Far and Wide Siamese Crocodile