Philippine Crocodile

Philippine Crocodile

Mindoro crocodile, Buwaya, Philippine freshwater crocodile, Bukarot

Crocodylus mindorensis
Population size
Life Span
70-80 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
kg lbs 
m ft 

The Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis ), also known as the Mindoro crocodile, the Philippine freshwater crocodile, the bukarot in Ilocano, and more generally as a buwaya in most Filipino lowland cultures, is one of two species of crocodiles found in the Philippines; the other is the larger saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). The Philippine crocodile, the species endemic only to the country, went from data deficient to critically endangered in 2008 from exploitation and unsustainable fishing methods, such as dynamite fishing. Conservation methods are being taken by the Dutch/Filipino Mabuwaya foundation, the Crocodile Conservation Society and the Zoological Institute of HerpaWorld in Mindoro island. It is strictly prohibited to kill a crocodile in the country, and it is punishable by law.


Philippine crocodiles are relatively small reptiles, with broad snouts and thick bony plates on their backs. They have between 66 and 68 teeth which regularly fall out, to be replaced by new ones. Their golden brown color darkens as they grow. This is a fairly small species, reaching breeding maturity at 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) and 15 kg (33 lb) in both sexes. A 69-kilogram (152 lb) individual was found to have a bite force of 2,736 N (615 lbf). Adults rarely exceed 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in) and 90 kg (200 lb), and only the largest males attain record maximum size of up to 3.5 m (11 ft), perhaps reaching the maximum weight of 210 kg (460 lb) in exceptional individuals. The females are a little smaller than males.



Biogeographical realms

Philippine crocodiles are historically indigenous throughout the islands of the Philippines, including Dalupiri, Luzon, Mindoro, Samar, Jolo, Masbate, Negros, Busuanga and Mindanao. It is now limited to the north of Luzon and the southwest of the Mindanao islands. This species makes its home on estuarine and coastal shores. Most of their habitat is in freshwater areas and may include ponds, marshes and small rivers.

Philippine Crocodile habitat map

Climate zones

Philippine Crocodile habitat map
Philippine Crocodile
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Habits and Lifestyle

Philippines crocodiles rest in the sun during the day to warm up. When they are too hot they will open their mouth to release heat. These crocodiles are able to float on the water’s surface. To control their buoyancy they will ingest stones. Not much is known about perception or communication in Philippines crocodiles. In general, crocodilians' skin color changes depending on their mood or the environment. In addition, their bright yellow or orange tongue in their gaping jaw may act as a social or warning sign.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Philippines crocodiles are carnivores, feeding on fish, shrimp, crabs, snails, small mammals, snakes, and birds.

Mating Habits

December-May, egg laying: April-August
4 to 5 months
65-85 days
7 to 33
7-33 eggs

The mating system of Philippines crocodiles is unknown. However, crocodiles are polygynous, which means that a single male mates with a number of females. Courtship and mating take place from December to May during the dry season, and eggs are laid from April to August, with a peak in May or June at the start of the rainy season. Philippine crocodiles will lay a second clutch after 4 - 6 months, and may lay as many as three clutches each year. Clutch sizes range from 7 - 33 eggs. In the wild, the incubation period is 65 - 78 days, while in captivity it is 77 - 85 days. Females build a mound nest from leaves, twigs and soil or they make a hole nest, in which to conceal their eggs. Once the eggs are laid, males and females both take turns watching the nest, and females routinely visit the nest either early morning or late afternoon. Females become mature at 10 years of age, while males become mature at 15 years of age.


Population threats

The huge population decline of this species in the past was due to excessive hunting for commercial use. Today, destruction of their habitat is the most serious threat to its survival, as rainforests are cleared throughout the region for rice fields to feed the increasing human population. The infamous 'saltwater' or estuarine crocodile, one of the world’s largest, with a reputation for being a man-eater, lives in the same area and undoubtedly contributes to intolerance by locals of any crocodile species, so the small Philippine crocodile is also often killed when encountered.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Philippine crocodile population size is around 92-137 mature individuals. Currently this species is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • This crocodile is one of the world’s most endangered and vulnerable crocodilian species, along with the Chinese alligator.
  • The Philippine crocodile is also known as the Philippine freshwater crocodile, Bukarot (northern Luzon), Buwaya (general Philippines), and the Mindoro crocodile (the name of the island where it was first discovered by Karl Schmidt in 1935).
  • The Philippine crocodile was first described in 1935 by Schmidt, but for decades was considered a subspecies of the New Guinea crocodile. It has been recognized widely as a separate species only since Hall's 1989 paper.
  • Since 2001, killing a Philippines crocodile in its natural range has been illegal, and the penalty is a fine of $2,500.
  • This crocodile is relatively small and is not a danger to people unless harassed.
  • The first crocodiles evolved 240 million years ago, the same time as dinosaurs (which they are related to), were shorter than 1 m (3 ft) and ran upright on two feet. That is the reason why today crocodiles have longer rear limbs than fore limbs.


1. Philippine Crocodile Wikipedia article -
2. Philippine Crocodile on The IUCN Red List site -

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