While extremely wet weather is often a downer for humans, it’s a real turn on for crocodiles. As forecasters warn of an impending La Niña event in Australia, a crocodile baby boom is well on the way too.
La Niña refers to an atmospheric phenomenon brought about by strong winds moving over oceans covering the equatorial area and which trigger colder waters and make sudden changes in on-land weather conditions.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the weather event is set to deliver more rainfall to Australia, generating perfect mating weather conditions for crocodiles.
Dr Adam Britton, a zoologist expert noted that varied weather factors promote intricate relationships among crocodiles.
For example, “rainfall and humidity triggers crocodile courtship and nesting behaviour,” he said.
“It’s like a little switch that goes off in their brains when rain falls and triggers females to start building the nest.
“When you get early rains, you get more crocodile nests, so you get an increased number of eggs.”
Is It Too Early To Tell?
Angela Freeman from Hartley’s Wildlife Adventures said it was too early to know if the upcoming La Niña would bring about a “baby boom” at their animal sanctuary.
“The female crocs are all pregnant, but will re-absorb their eggs if we don’t get some rain very soon,” she said.
Shockingly, female crocodiles reabsorb nutrients and proteins from laid eggs if they feel the conditions are not right for hatching.
Ms Freeman and her team at the park were anxiously looking forward to receiving enough rainfall later this week.
“We need that drop in the barometric pressure to bring on the nesting.”
However, Dr Britton warned that more eggs don’t necessarily mean more crocodiles.
“When you get more rain, you also get more flooding and during a two-month incubation period, if the nest goes under water they will die” he said.
He added that heightened competition and presence of predators prevent many of these new hatchlings from making it to maturity.
“Mortality of the juveniles that hatch is also very high,” he said.
“There’s more crocodiles competing against each other for food and an increased number will be taken by predators.”
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