Did Ancient Greece Have Crocodiles?

Ancient Greece, with its rich mythology and legendary history, is a fascinating topic to explore. One question that often comes up is whether the ancient Greeks had crocodiles in their midst. Let’s take a closer look.

The Geography of Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece was situated in the eastern Mediterranean, with the Aegean Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the west. The region had a varied landscape that included mountains, valleys, and coastal areas. The major cities of Athens and Sparta were located on the mainland, while other city-states such as Corinth and Thebes were also inland.

The Nile River Valley

One of the main sources of crocodiles in ancient times was the Nile River Valley in Egypt. Crocodiles were abundant in this area due to the river providing an ideal habitat for them to thrive. Additionally, ancient Egyptians revered crocodiles as sacred animals and even worshiped them as gods.

Ancient Greek Encounters with Crocodiles

While there is no concrete evidence that crocodiles existed in ancient Greece itself, there are several accounts of encounters with crocodiles by Greek travelers and writers.

Herodotus, a famous Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BCE, wrote about crocodiles he encountered during his travels to Egypt. In his account, he describes seeing live crocodiles being kept in pools as part of religious rituals.

Another famous tale involves Alexander the Great during his conquests of Persia and India. According to legend, Alexander came across a river infested with crocodiles while crossing into India. He reportedly ordered his men to build rafts out of animal hides so they could safely cross without being attacked by the reptilian predators.


While there is no evidence that crocodiles were native to ancient Greece, encounters with the creatures were not unheard of. Greek travelers and writers encountered them during their travels to other regions, and legends of their bravery in the face of these fearsome predators have been passed down through the ages.

In conclusion, while it is unlikely that ancient Greece had crocodiles as a permanent part of their environment, they were certainly aware of these creatures and their potential danger.