Crocodile farms typically breed and raise crocodilian species, including alligators, to produce several types of goods. Crocodile meat can be exported, while leather can be used to produce numerous items. Although crocodiles and alligators can never really be fully domesticated, trained workers can safely work with the animals to create reasonably safe farm operations.
The impact of the crocodile farming industry is clear. In just one U.S. state, crocodile farming produces about $70 million in revenues annually. Both Chinese and American alligators are primarily farmed in industry facilities, but the Nile and Saltwater crocodile is farmed regionally in high numbers as well.
Useful Crocodile Farming Statistics to Know
#1. The primary reason for crocodile farming is to harvest the skins of the animals, which can raise several hundred dollars per animal. The meat from crocodilian species is considered to be a byproduct for the industry. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#2. The most prized area of skin on a crocodile is the belly, so great care is taken in the farming process to protect this part of the animal. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#3. When crocodile farming was first proposed, all 23 species of known crocodilians were classified as being either threatened or endangered. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#4. Since 1996, after 25 years of farming efforts, 33% of the crocodilian species have recovered in population numbers that are high enough that an annual harvest has become possible with regulated efforts. Another one-third are no longer in danger of extinction, but are not harvested. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#5. The value of a crocodile skin depends on several different factors. The amount of bone found within the scales, along with the salt-curing process that is used to prevent tissue rot, dictates the pricing spectrum in the global market. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#6. There are current 1.5 million skins harvested from crocodilian species every year. They are legally exported from about 30 different countries. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#7. Nearly half of the skins that are part of the Crocodile farming industry are “classic” skins, which comes from the belly skins of various species. 53% of the market is comprised of caiman skins. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#8. From 1990-2005, meat exports for the Crocodile farming industry were relatively stable. About 400 tons of meat was delivered internationally, with a majority of the meat coming from Siamese and Nile Crocodiles and American Alligators. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#9. Hong Kong, along with the rest of China, are the primary importers of Crocodile meat and body parts, including fat, bones, teeth, and skulls. Some crocodile products are used in pharmaceuticals and traditional medicines. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#10. About 70,000 live crocodilians are exported for farming purposes each year. Since 1998, more live crocodilians are exported because of food trade needs than for the skins that can be produced, despite the lower prices that come from meat byproducts. (Crocodile Specialist Group)
#11. Even with safety measures in place, crocodile farming is a dangerous industry. Even a young crocodile that is only a few weeks old has the power to remove a finger. (BBC)
#12. The average crocodilian that is found at a crocodile farm is about 16 feet in length and can weigh as much 1,650 pounds. (BBC)
#13. At a 300-acre facility in Kitui, Kenya, which is about 110 miles east of Nairobi, there are currently 33,000 crocodiles living in that space. Each crocodile offers the potential of up to 7,000 shillings for the meat. (BBC)
#14. Most crocodile farms are structured to provide the animals with sunken closures, dry land, and some form of water. They are then fed with meat products, fish, and corn flour that is soaked with blood. (BBC)
#15. The ideal age of a crocodilian species for eating and skin harvesting is 8 years old. (BBC)
#16. The dangers of crocodile farming aren’t directed at just the workers. There is no vaccine against crocodile pox, so one infection can take out an entire farm within weeks. Infighting with crocodiles is common as well, which can result in serious injuries and death. (BBC)
#17. In Africa, the crocodile farming sector is growing at a rate of 22% annually. South Africa has seen the greatest gains, with total exports valued at over $70 million each year. Zambia and Kenya both produce more than $60 million in crocodilian exports annually. Zimbabwe contributes another $30 million in product. (BBC)
#18. Almost 85% of the crocodilian exports from Africa go to Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. Outside of these three countries, the largest export market for crocodile farms is the Middle East. (BBC)
#19. In Australia, crocodile farms use a combination of kangaroo and chicken meat to feed their stock. Younger crocodilians are preferred, between 18-24 months of age, to promote healthy belly skin production. Young crocs are fed daily, while older crocs are fed once per week. Depending on the quality, Australian farmers can see $15,000 per animal in returns. (Choose Cruelty Free)
#20. The global standard for value per crocodile is about double the cost of creating harvesting conditions in the first place. That means if the cost is $50 per animal, the return is $100 per animal. In Australia, returns are triple, on average, when good farming methods are used for just the raw skin. Depending on the meat markets and other parts, Australian farmers can earn a 4-time return per animal. (Northern Territory Crocodile Industry Economic Contribution Analysis)
#21. During FY 2014/2015, the total economic contribution of the crocodile farming industry in Australia was $54.3 million. Farming operations contributed $29.3 million. (Northern Territory Crocodile Industry Economic Contribution Analysis)
#22. Worldwide exports of crocodile skins increased by 30% in 2013 alone, which is the last year that reliable data is available. (The Economist)
#23. In the United States, crocodile farming takes a different approach. Farmers rely on eggs collected in controlled harvests from the wild instead of captive breeding processes. (The Economist)
#24. The largest farmers in the industry will often support at least 70,000 crocodilians at one time. (The Economist)
Crocodile Farming Trends and Analysis
The crocodile farming industry was initially formed, in part, to save the crocodilian species from extinction. With a majority of the species recovering to an extent where they are no longer threatened or endangered, no other animal species has seen such a fast recovery.
At the same time, however, there are controversies that surround this industry. Farms often restrict the movement of crocodiles and alligators to protect workers. They are crowded into small pens and, until recently, much of the animal went to waste.
As more uses for crocodile products become popular globally, the crocodile farming industry will likely continue to grow, as will the controversies that often surround it.