Ballarat Wildlife Park welcomes newest resident Crunch the crocodile

WHAT has a jaw more than 300 times stronger than a human and lives in Ballarat?

Meet Crunch the crocodile, the newest star attraction at Ballarat Wildlife Park.

Weighing in at a whopping 500 kilograms and sitting at a length of five metres, Crunch is now into his fourth week in his new home at the park.

Named by three-year-old Charlie Parker, son of park owner Greg, Crunch was captured in the Lockhart River in Far North Queensland six years ago.

He twice escaped capture in 2007 before eventually being caught and transferred to a disused barramundi farm, where he lived for six years.

From there, he was purchased by Mr Parker and now calls Ballarat home.

“He started eating after 21 days, which is just incredible,” Mr Parker said.

“When crocodiles get relocated they can go off food for as long as nine months, but to have him eating after three weeks is just amazing.”

With a diet that consists of three whole chickens each week, as well as a mixture of rabbit and fish, Crunch is certain not to go hungry.

An 80-millimetre thick pane of glass is all that separates the giant reptile from visitors to the park, in his three-metre deep pool filled with 180,000 litres of water.

“He’s definitely a thinker, he doesn’t snap at anything and he’s quite cheeky,” Mr Parker said of the giant crocodile.

“There was one guy who banged at the glass and Crunch basically had a quick snap and turned his back and swam away,” Mr Parker said.

“For an animal to turn their back on humans shows they’re very composed.”

Alone in his enclosure now, Crunch will later this year be paired with fellow newcomer Bella, a 3.2-metre female crocodile that remains fenced off in the same enclosure at the park.

If everything goes to plan, the two reptiles are expected to be paired for breeding in late October or early November.

The park’s former star crocodile, Gator, died unexpectedly in May last year.

pat.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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