Possible chinks in the crocodile armour: defining skin microbiota

Charles Darwin University

  • Project code: PRJ-010453

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

  • Project completion date: Monday, December 10, 2018

  • National Priority: NAP-Enhance industry success through targeted industry-specific RD&E


The crocodile industry is based around the production of blemish-free belly skins for the international skin industry. Given the infancy of the industry, research and development efforts have been directed towards ensuring overall economic sustainability through improving various aspects of growth and survival, and supplying skins that meet the basic export requirements. However, as the international crocodilian industry has grown and farming practices have improved, more crocodile skins are available to supply the skin market. As a result, the expectation of what constitutes a first-grade skin has become less ambiguous.
The main purpose of this project is to begin understanding the microflora of crocodile skin to determine what is commensal, opportunistic or pathogenic.


New and Emerging Animal Industries

Research Organisation

Charles Darwin University

Objective Summary

This project has two main objectives as follows.
1. Characterise the microflora associated with normal (unblemished) and blemished crocodile skin by:
a. Describing bacterial community diversity and abundance on wild, captive normal and captive blemished crocodile skin;
b. Comparing the three communities to identify which bacteria are unique to captive crocodile skins with a defined defect – (eg linear, foci or orange stain); and
c. In the captive environment, understand the relative importance of microflora transference between normal skin, defect skin, water and the pen surface.
2. Determine the prevalence of poxvirus and herpesvirus on crocodile skins and defects, as well as in the environment by:
a. Developing molecular tools if not already available,
b. Screening characteristic lesions to confirm aetiology, and
c. Budget permitting, if the presence of these viruses are not confirmed, follow the methodology of 1. above to determine the presence of bacteria and/or screen for other potential viruses.