When it comes to exploring the jungles in Vietnam, running into an alligator might be one of your biggest worries. While there aren’t alligators, there are crocodiles, among a relatively large eclectic group of reptiles.
However, these creatures are rarely spotted in the wild due to overhunting and their environments reduced by construction projects. The majority of crocs in Vietnam are domesticated and raised on farms, but a few still live out in nature.
While you aren’t likely to encounter one, there are a couple of crocodile types in Vietnam. Both the saltwater and Siamese have been spotted in this subtropical southeast Asian nation. The lush and varied Vietnamese countryside is home to a magnitude of wildlife.
Naturally, with all the water, jungles and warm temperatures, one would wonder if it’s home to many crocodiles. There are two species of crocs living in Vietnam, slightly different in size and traits.
Saltwater Crocodiles are the larger of the two native species, growing up to a length of about 7 meters/20 feet when mature. These predators can be aggressive and are responsible for most human attacks worldwide, so they are very dangerous. Saltwater crocs typically weigh anywhere from 1,000-2,000 pounds and have a bite force of 3,700 pounds per square inch, one of the strongest bites ever measured among animals.
Even though it’s unlikely that you’ll ever meet one of these guys in the Vietnamese wilderness, it’s still wise to keep an eye open around lakes, ponds, riverbanks, and swamps.
The saltwater crocodile’s attack, and its death roll, would no doubt cause severe injury and likely death. Despite being one of the largest reptiles in the world, it easily camouflages itself from its prey. With an ability to hold its breath for up to seven hours, it can sneak up on its victim.
Saltwater crocodiles are not commonly found since they have been hunted near the point of extinction. However, if they are to be seen, it will be in the riverways and jungles of Vietnam. While they can handle saltwater for a few days (despite their name), they primarily live in freshwater swamps, lakes, rivers, and ponds.
Siamese crocs are a freshwater species and only get to be about 3.5 meters/13 feet long in adulthood. While these beasts are still predators, they are less dangerous to humans as they rarely prey on anything other than fish, snakes, and frogs.
Over one million Siamese crocs are kept in captivity in several Asian countries, as they are the kind primarily used for crocodile products. Studies have found that Siamese crocs’ blood has antimicrobial properties, making it sought out for medicinal and dietary supplements.
This freshwater crocodile is on the critically endangered list and is considered to be near extinction. There are thought to be less than 100 left in the wild and most of those live in Cambodia. However, these crocodile, have been found in Vietnam as well.
It is thought that the last Siamese crocodile in Vietnam was killed by hunters, but some natives say they have been spotted in lakes. While hunters seek these animals for their skins and eggs, their habitat (marshes, lakes, swamps, slow moving rivers) have also been disrupted by hydroelectric dams and sand dragging.
There was a time that Vietnam was filled with crocodiles in the wild, but alligators were never permanent residents, except for at a zoo. So, while a crocodile sighting may be a rare occurrence in Vietnam, you should certainly keep your guard up when in the wetlands or by the waters’ edge.