This Australian Tourist Attraction Called "Cage Of Death" Is Really Not For The Faint-Hearted

The fearsome saltwater crocodile is one of Australia's most dangerous creatures, lurking in rivers, estuaries, and even the open sea, ready to ambush their prey. The living dinosaurs are the biggest reptiles in the world, first staking their territory around 240 million years ago. Nicknamed "Salties" in Oz, they have a varied diet ranging from crabs and fish to animals as large as buffalos, and around 50,000 years ago, the Australian crocs got a new potential snack: Humans. They're certainly not the kind of creatures you might necessarily think about swimming with, but one Australian tourist attraction gives brave visitors the opportunity to do exactly that, known as the Cage of Death.

Growing up to 22 feet long and capable of exerting up to 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch with their powerful jaws, we skinny Homo sapiens are little match for a croc if we stray too near and they feel like taking a bite. Thankfully, crocodile attacks are fairly uncommon in Australia, resulting in an average of 2 deaths per year. For a little perspective, 77 people between 2000 and 2010 died due to horse-related mishaps. Still, most of us would rather take our chances with a horse than a crocodile unless we have five inches of clear plastic between us and them. With that barrier for protection, however, the Cage of Death offers a chance to see these killing machines up close.

Where is the Cage of Death?

The Cage of Death is the headline tourist attraction at Crocosaurus Cove, a zoo, aquarium, and wildlife exhibit in Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory in Australia. The Cove is home to a wide variety of fish, frogs, turtles, lizards, and snakes, but the star of the show is undoubtedly the resident freshwater and saltwater crocodiles. You can even meet a celebrity: 5-meter-long Burt is a Saltie who made a cameo appearance in "Crocodile Dundee" and later found more fame predicting the results of soccer matches in the 2018 World Cup.

There is plenty of crocodile-related action for the whole family at the park. Kids can get a chance to have their photo taken while holding a hatchling (don't worry, the jaws are taped shut) and learn all about the fascinating creatures at World of Crocs. Visitors are invited to help feed the juveniles by Fishing for Crocs, using a rod and line to dangle tasty morsels from a safe distance or take a swim in the pool next to their enclosure. The Big Croc Feed Show is a must-see event, and the VIP Tour ($89 AUD, close to $60 USD) also allows you to help the reptile handlers serve lunch to the adults. If you're really feeling brave, slip into your swimsuit and step into the Cage of Death for a real close encounter, $185 AUD ( $123 USD) for one person and $285 AUD ( $189 USD) for two.

What awaits in the Cage of Death?

Despite its name, the Cage of Death is actually a clear plastic cylinder big enough to accommodate two adults — try not to worry too much about the teeth and claw marks all over it. Under expert supervision, the enclosure is lowered into a pool where you will spend 15 minutes face-to-face with an adult saltwater crocodile. You are almost guaranteed some action as the handlers choose from one of four different pools depending on which resident croc looks ready to greet its visitors more energetically. 

Don't forget your goggles because the cage is half-submerged, giving you the chance to observe the creatures swimming from beneath the surface. From above water level, try to hold your nerve as the handlers tempt the croc by dangling tidbits from a line right next to your face. Feeding instinctively, this usually means that the huge beast will launch itself from the water to snap up the food.

The Cage of Death is not only an exciting day out for your Australian Bucket List, but it encourages the crocodiles to hunt for food much as they would in their natural habitat, making it a rewarding session for the reptiles. Taking the plunge is a real thrill as you witness the raw power of the magnificent creatures and a rare chance to see these miracles of evolution and survival up close without becoming the main course yourself.