Kakadu National Park

Kakadu’s diverse landforms are home to a huge range of plants and animals, many of which are only found in this area.

Our rangers do a lot of work to protect these rare and fascinating species.

Here are a few of our special resident animals:

Crocodiles

There are around 10,000 crocodiles in Kakadu – that’s 10% of all the crocs in the Northern Territory!

We have two types – freshwater crocs up to three metres long, and the ‘salties’ (estuarine crocodiles), which can grow to a whopping six metres.

Freshwater crocs have a narrow snout and a single row of four large scutes (bony plates) right behind their head. Salties have a broader snout and no scutes.

The best way to see crocodiles safely is on a commercial cruise or from a high point like the Cahills Crossing viewing platform.

The dry season is the best time to see crocs as they concentrate in shrinking water bodies.

Remember – wherever there’s water, there might be crocodiles! Be cautious near rivers and billabongs and pay attention to croc warning signs.

Download a PDF guide to Kakadu’s crocs

Leichhardt’s grasshoppers

Leichhardt's grasshopper on a bush Leichhardt’s grasshopper

This colourful grasshopper is a Kakadu icon. It only lives in three places in the world, and this is one of them.

The grasshopper is named after the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who reported great numbers of them as he travelled through this area in 1845.

These insects are a sign of the changing seasons at Kakadu. They come out in December or January each year to coincide with the first rains of the monsoon season.

Aboriginal people call the grasshoppers alyurr and believe they are the children of the lightning man Namarrgon, a powerful ancestral being.

Quolls

Our northern quolls are having a hard time. Right across northern Australia, these native mammals are battling for survival against poisonous cane toads and feral predators such as cats and wild dogs.

Here in Kakadu, we’re partnering with scientists to try and save our quolls.

We’re training captive quolls not to eat the poisonous cane toads. When the quolls are released into the wild in Kakadu, they teach their babies the same habits – a big step in protecting this endangered species.

Flatback turtles

Gardangarl (Field Island) lies at the mouth of the South Alligator river, where Kakadu meets the sea. It is a critical habitat for flatback turtles.

Every year teams of Kakadu staff, traditional owners and conservation volunteers camp on Field Island for three weeks to study these turtles as they come ashore to nest. Surveying began in the 1980s and has been conducted annually since 1994.

These studies helps us understand the species and their movements and monitor the effects of climate change and other threats.

Our research shows that the population of female turtles that continuously return to Field Island is stable. The data is vital for monitoring flatback turtle populations in our region and around the country.

Tips for watching wildlife

Follow these handy hints to increase your chance of encountering some of Kakadu’s abundant wildlife.

  • Early morning and sunset are good times to see wildlife.
  • Use a torch at night to look for nocturnal animals. Be careful not to shine strong spotlights onto sleeping birds.
  • Look for clues showing where animals have been, especially tracks, droppings and scratchings.
  • Waterholes along creek lines attract animals. Sit quietly to avoid disturbing them.
  • Animals are often heard before they are seen. Walk quietly, listen and watch for movement.
  • Use binoculars to get a closer look.
  • Look out for animals such as lizards and snakes crossing roads.
  • Do not approach, disturb or feed wildlife.
  • Pay attention to crocodile warning signs. People have been killed and severely injured by crocs in the park.
  • Snakes, pigs and buffaloes can also be dangerous. Keep well away from them.

For information on the Northern Territory’s animals, download the Field Guide to NT Fauna app for iOS or Android.

You can also download our PDF factsheet about Kakadu’s wildlife.