A-z - Animals

Crocodile

crocodile facts

prey
fish, crustaceans, deer, buffalo
young name
fledgling
group behavior
  • Social
interesting fact
Eating pebbles is known to aid digestion and buoyancy!
Estimated population size
unknown
biggest threat
Habitat loss and hunting
Most distinctive
the eyes and nostrils are located on the top of the head and above the nose
other names)
American crocodile, Orinoco crocodile, freshwater crocodile, Philippine crocodile, Mexican crocodile, Nile crocodile, New Guinea crocodile, Mugger crocodile, estuarine crocodile, Cuban crocodile, Siamese crocodile, dwarf crocodile, fine-nosed crocodile
incubation period
3 months
independent era
12 years
Habitat
Rivers, lakes, swamps, lagoons, mangrove swamps and estuaries
predator
Humans, Big Cats, Birds of Prey
diet
carnivore
lifestyle
  • night
common name
crocodile, crocodile
number of species
13
Place
North America, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia
slogan
Not much has changed in 200 million years!
group
reptile

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key point:

  • Unlike other reptiles, crocodiles are an ancient reptile that also includes dinosaurs.
  • Alligators bask in the hot sun all day to absorb enough heat to survive a night of hunting and foraging.
  • Crocodiles are social animals that often hunt in packs, and they have the ability to communicate with each other through hissing, chirping and roaring. Baby crocodiles make high-pitched squeals when they are in distress.
  • Crocodiles can live up to three years without food.
Alligator One

© AZ-Animals.com

Crocodiles are one of the most famous and fearsome animals in the world and are considered top predators. Their strong bodies, powerful jaws, tremendous speed and agility, and unrivaled stealth make them one of the world's top predators in their natural environment.

type

  • Saltwater crocodile ( Crocodylus porosus ): This once endangered marine monster has made an impressive comeback. Known for its penchant for ambushing its prey, it can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh over 4,000 pounds. It is also the largest reptile on Earth and usually has dark green scales, although they can also be tan, or in some cases almost black. This giant reptile is found in Australia, India and Micronesia.
  • Nile crocodile ( Crocodylus niloticus ): This reptile is known for its extreme aggression and thick scaly skin. It also has the remarkable ability to clamp forcefully with its jaws for long periods of time. Its favorite habitats include lakes, rivers, and swamps, and can usually be found in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Madagascar.
  • American crocodile ( Crocodylus acutus ): The only crocodile other than the saltwater crocodile that has an affinity for saltwater, this species is found in Florida, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.
  • Hall New Guinea crocodile ( Crocodylus halli ): This giant reptile lives in estuaries, lakes and rivers in southern New Guinea.
  • Orinoco crocodile ( Crocodylus intermedius ): The largest reptile in the Americas, this crocodile is known for its pale fur and is found in the Orinoco River basin of Colombia and Venezuela.
  • Freshwater crocodiles ( Crocodylus johnstoni ): Unlike their saltwater cousins, these reptiles thrive in freshwater and can only reach a maximum of 3 meters and 220 pounds. They do exist side by side with salted fish, although they are no match for the former.
  • Philippine crocodile ( Crocodylus mindorensis ): These freshwater crocodiles have golden-brown scales that darken with age. They play a key role in maintaining healthy fish populations around them and can grow to a little over 8 feet in length while weighing up to 200 pounds.
  • Morelet crocodile ( Crocodylus moreletii ): These reptiles with webbed hind feet can run fairly fast. They are easily recognizable by their black scales and broad snout.
  • New Guinea crocodile ( Crocodylus novaeguineae ): A different species than the crocodiles found south of the island's central ridge, these reptiles found in the north are nocturnal. They have a tapered snout and gray scales.
  • Robbery crocodile ( Crocodylus palustris ): Known for its light olive color, this crocodile is found in India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It also has the habit of getting into the mud to escape the scorching heat, and it has the widest nose among alligators.
  • Bornean crocodile (Crocodylus raninus ): As its name suggests, found in Borneo, this species remains a mystery to experts.
  • Cuban crocodile ( Crocodylus rhombifer ): This highly intelligent, long-limbed crocodile prefers land and cooperates with others of its kind when hunting. However, its numbers have plummeted due to hunting.
  • Siamese crocodile ( Crocodylus siamensis ): The scales of this species range from dark green to pale green. It can grow to a maximum of 13 feet and 770 lbs.
  • West African crocodile ( Crocodylus suchus ): This crocodile has dark to light scales and is known for its preference for fresh water in forests. However, it has also adapted to the Mauritanian desert, where it takes refuge in burrows during times of drought.
  • Osborn dwarf crocodile ( Osteolaemus osborni ): This species is found in the Congo River basin in central Africa.
  • Dwarf crocodile ( Osteolaemus tetraspis ): The smallest species of crocodile, this reptile grows to about 5 feet 70 pounds and can be found in forests or caves.
  • West African slender crocodile ( Mecistops cataphractus ): Experts consider this reptile an enigma, easily recognizable by its pointed snout. It also likes to live in water teeming with plant life.
  • Central African Leptorhynchus ( Mecistops leptorhynchus ): As the name suggests, this is the second member of the Mecistops genus and is found throughout Central Africa. However, it can also be found in southern Sudan.

evolution

  • Crocodiles are closely related to other crocodilians such as alligators, caimans and gharials, and crocodilians have changed very little in an evolutionary sense over 200 million years.
  • Unlike other reptiles, crocodiles are an ancient reptile that also includes dinosaurs.
  • Although dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, crocodiles are thought to have survived well over time because they were so well adapted to their environment.
  • Thirteen different species of crocodiles currently inhabit fresh and saltwater environments in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.
  • The semi-aquatic nature of crocodiles has led them to evolve a number of key adaptations that allow them to survive so successfully in their natural environment.

Read here to learn more about prehistoric crocodiles.

Crocodile
Alligators are resting on the rocks and gathering some sunlight.

© Milan Zygmont/Shutterstock.com

etymology

The word crocodile actually originated from the ancient Greek word krokódilos or some other slight variation. Latinization of the name changed the "k" to a "c". Some scholars believe that crocodiles are a combination of pebbles (krokè ) and worms ( drilos ).



anatomy and appearance

  • Alligators are large reptiles with thick, scaly skin consisting of armored waterproof panels that both protect them from potential predators and keep their bodies from drying out.
  • These scales come in a variety of colors, from dull olive and green to brown, gray and black, meaning they are easily camouflaged in surrounding water and vegetation.
  • Like other crocodile species, their eyes and nostrils are located at the very top of a broad head and snout.
  • This is useful as they lie in the water waiting with little to no body exposure in order to more successfully ambush their prey.
  • To protect them in water, crocodiles have a special transparent third eyelid that allows them to open their eyes but protects them from water.
  • They also have external flaps that seal off their ears and nostrils, and a special breathing system that allows them to stay in the water for up to five hours at a time.
  • Their vertically flattened tails are very strong and are used to propel them through the water, and while they do have webbed feet, they do not use them to aid them when swimming.
  • Crocodiles range in size from the dwarf crocodile, which is less than 2 meters long, to the estuarine crocodile, also known as the saltwater crocodile or 'saltie', which is the world's heaviest reptile at 7 meters long, weighing up to 1,000 kilograms .
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Read about crocodile skulls here.

Cornered crocodile wrestles five adult lions
Alligator in the swamp.

©iStock.com/AppleZoomZoom

Distribution and Habitat

Crocodiles can be found in a variety of wetland habitats throughout the warm tropical waters of the Southern Hemisphere. They are unable to regulate their body temperature internally, meaning they rely heavily on the sun to warm their bodies after spending time in the water cooling down.

America

The American crocodile is the largest crocodile species in North and South America and inhabits freshwater rivers and lakes, as well as brackish coastal waters near estuaries and lagoons in southern Florida and throughout Central and northern South America.

Young Nile crocodile basking on the bank of the river

© iStock.com/Robby_Holmwood

Africa

In Africa, Nile crocodiles were once widely distributed in eastern and southern Africa, but are now becoming rarer. They inhabit freshwater swamps, rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. The largest and most widespread crocodile species in the world is the estuarine crocodile.

Asia and Australia

These fearsome reptilian giants are found in the estuaries and saltwater marshes of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, across all of Southeast Asia and as far as Australia.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Crocodiles have been studied extensively by many researchers and scientists to better understand their behavior. Although many species are primarily reclusive and haven't been studied extensively, here are some common behavioral patterns found in crocodiles.

Alligators bask in the heat of the day and prepare for a night of hunting.

©Khalil Ahmed/Shutterstock.com

inability to regulate body temperature

Like other reptiles, crocodiles are unable to regulate their own body temperature and rely heavily on the sun's heat to warm their massive bodies . In the heat of the day they basked on the banks of the river to warm up their bodies after a night of hunting. Smaller species such as the dwarf crocodile (which is the least known species of crocodile) also bask on the branches of trees for the purpose of climbing them.

Another way crocodiles regulate their body temperature is by bobbing up and down in the water, basking on the surface and cooling themselves underwater. Alligators are highly sociable animals that are kept together in large mixed groups of adults and juveniles.

Alligators are social animals with a hierarchy headed by the largest male.

© Adam Jones Adam63 / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Crocodiles are social animals

Behaviors such as hierarchy and group feeding have been observed in many species. The largest males are at the top of the hierarchy, and they enjoy the best basking spots. When large animals are felled by groups, females always get priority during group feeding. This behavior is particularly evident in Nile crocodiles and mugging crocodiles.

This changes when mating season begins, and males become very territorial and protect their banks from rivals by holding their large heads high in the air and growling at intruders. invasion. When the female Nile crocodile was attracted by these sounds, the male Nile crocodile began to twist his body and even spray water from his nostrils into the air.

How do crocodiles communicate?

Unlike many other reptiles, crocodiles have the ability to communicate with each other. Alligators make a variety of sounds to communicate, depending on the species in question, size, sex, and the situation or condition they are in. Here are some common sounds and their meanings:

  • Chirping – When the egg is about to hatch, the young within the egg will make a "cheeping" sound, prompting the mother to take the egg into the water with her mouth. The eggs then hatch in the water, and the mother keeps the hatchlings in the water, protecting and feeding them for a period of time.
  • Distress – When baby crocodiles are in imminent danger or feel threatened, they squeal to alert other crocodiles in the area.
  • Hissing – When they want to threaten others, whether it's an alligator or another animal and prey, they make a sound similar to a cough.
  • Courtship call – Female alligators make a special sound called the hatching call.
  • Roar – The male crocodile makes a roar, which is a combination of infrasonic vibrations that create ripples in the water and vibrations in the ground itself. This usually happens during the spring mating season. Crocodiles also use this noise to scare away other predators and threats in the area.
crocodile and butterfly
Crocodiles are intelligent creatures that study their prey's behavior patterns before they attack.

© iStock.com/Marina Reymova

cognitive intelligence

Alligators are very observant, and they study the behavior of their prey extensively. They study the common behavioral patterns of animals that come to drink near their habitats. Some alligators use nesting material to lure birds close to them in order to catch them.

Alligators are cooperative pack hunters. They gather larger prey and the larger crocodiles hold it down while others tear it apart to kill. They also trap fish by trapping them in groups, then snatch them away one by one.

Crocodilians exhibit common playful behaviors in social structures, such as locomotive games with repeated rolling on slopes, playing with objects, wrestling, swimming, and social games such as horseback riding are common in crocodile societies.

Newly hatched crocodiles usually emerge at the start of the rainy season

©hxdbzxy/Shutterstock.com

Reproduction and Life Cycle

After mating, the female crocodile lays between 17 (pygmy crocodile) and 100 (Nile crocodile) eggs in a nest made of vegetation such as soil and leaves, which prevents the eggs from getting too cold if the nest is flooded during incubation. In areas prone to flooding, they also build nests to carry their eggs out of flood waters.

The incubation period is usually around 3 months, and the hatching period usually coincides with the onset of the rainy season to keep their bodies from drying out. Despite their dire reputation, female alligators are very loving mothers who fiercely guard their dens to protect them from predators until they are ready to hatch. Once the hatchlings start to emerge, the female alligator helps them descend into the water by holding them in the throat pouch in her mouth.

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Interestingly, the leathery eggs of crocodiles (and other more modern reptile species) were an evolutionary breakthrough for many species, as their protective covering and water-repellent properties meant that females could lay eggs on land rather than water, even in The driest place, which means they can better protect themselves from predators. Typically, crocodiles live from 25 to 75 years.

diet and prey

what do crocodiles eat
Alligators eat small mammals, birds, fish, insects, frogs, other types of reptiles, and crustaceans.

© AZ-Animals.com

Crocodiles are carnivorous, fearsome predators that are at the top of the food chain in their natural habitat. Their inability to chew food led to the development of ambush hunting techniques, as well as powerful jaws and teeth for tearing food.

  • Young alligators rely heavily on fish, crustaceans and small mammals, birds and reptiles, but as they grow older they are able to take larger prey, including deer, zebra and buffalo.
  • Crocodiles are generally more active at night, and some have been known to venture onto land to hunt prey, livestock and, in some cases, people (learn more about the most dangerous animals on Earth for humans).
  • Nile crocodiles (which feed primarily on fish) are known to be highly social, working together as they migrate to block off various parts of the river for fishing.
  • Crocodiles have a very slow metabolism and can remain afloat for long periods of time.
  • In extreme cases, they appear to be able to remain dormant for extended periods of time and survive on their own tissues.
  • Crocodiles can survive for up to three years without eating.

Catfish make up a large part of their natural diet, and by keeping their numbers in check, this allows the small fish to still thrive. These fish (often quickly eaten by larger catfish) then provide food for more than 40 species of birds, which use their droppings to fertilize the waters and keep them nutrient-rich, making many animals Species are able to continue to reproduce.

Learn more about the world's fiercest animals here.

Predators and Threats

Wild Bengal tiger lying on the grass and yawning.
tigers occasionally prey on crocodiles

©iStock.com/ANDREYGUDKOV

Due to the large size and highly aggressive nature of these top predators, adult alligators have few predators in their natural environment, except for occasional predation by big cats such as lions, jaguars and tigers. However, many animal species around the world feed on the smaller and much more fragile juveniles, from wild boars, dogs and large reptiles to birds of prey such as eagles.

Although they are common in some areas, crocodiles are threatened throughout most of their natural range, including hunting, habitat loss, and ecological changes down the food chain due to overfishing or water pollution, which in turn affects crocodiles up the food chain .

Interesting Facts and Features

While most crocodile species inhabit freshwater areas such as swamps, rivers, and lakes, many crocodile species also venture into brackish waters in coastal areas. American crocodiles often live in estuaries and lagoons close to the coast, but are able to cope with higher salinity by drinking as much fresh water as possible and by secreting crocodile tears from the body through glands on the crocodile's face.

During times of drought, they have also been known to dig deep into the mud to keep their bodies from drying out, and will not eat anything until the water returns. On the other side of the world, estuarine crocodiles have been observed eating pebbles in river beds. This process is thought to help grind up their food, thus aiding digestion, but also acts as ballast, aiding buoyancy when floating on the water.

© AZ-Animals.com

Crocodile vs Alligator

As mentioned earlier, the order Crocodilians includes crocodiles, alligators, gharials, and caimans. Since alligators are common in the southeastern United States, a common question is what are the main differences between alligators and crocodiles? The biggest difference between the two is:

  • Alligators have a more pointed nose (V-shaped), while alligators have "U-shaped" noses.
  • Crocodile species such as saltwater crocodiles can grow much larger than American alligators.
  • American alligators have no salt glands and live primarily in freshwater, while American crocodiles are more adapted to saltwater environments.

relationship with humans

For thousands of years, the relationship between crocodiles and humans has been the focus of endless debate. Their extremely aggressive way of attacking their prey kills countless people every year, and some have actually been hunted by crocodiles and ambushed on riverbanks.

Although the death toll is declining thanks to better education and local awareness of the terrifying nature of these giant reptiles, it is estimated that about 1,000 people still die each year. Crocodiles are also severely affected by increased human activity in many parts of the world, with the expansion of settlements and increased river traffic due to hunting, fishing and tourism.

Commercial Uses of Crocodiles

Alligator Skin – While crocodiles are scary, alligator skin is farmed in many parts of the world, tanned and made into clothing, shoes, handbags, belts and more. Crocodile leather is highly sought after in the high fashion industry and is valued worldwide.

Crocodile Meat – This meat is harvested because it is considered a delicacy and is eaten in various countries like China, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, Philippines, New Zealand, Bahamas and even the United States.

Alligator Oil – Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are extracted from the tissue of crocodiles and sold as alligator oil. It is widely used in traditional medicine in many Asian and native cultures. It is used to treat skin diseases, repair wounds and skin tissue, and treat diseases such as cancer.

Kom Ombo, crocodile god Sobek, Egypt
Sobek was the revered crocodile god of ancient Egypt.

©iStock.com/WHPics

in different cultures

The ferocious and fearsome nature of crocodiles has led them to be worshiped in many cultures. In Egypt, Sobek, the symbol of power and fertility, had the head of a crocodile. Also, Taweret, goddess of fertility, has a crocodile's tail and back on a human body. In parts of Africa, crocodiles are considered ancestors and provide food. In Hinduism, water gods and goddesses ride crocodiles, and there are some river gods.

conservation status

Today, populations of all crocodile species are in decline across most of their natural ranges, although some local populations are considered stable. Of the 13 different crocodile species, 6 are listed as Least Concern, 2 are listed as Vulnerable, and 5 are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Of all these species, the Philippine crocodile is by far the most at risk, with fewer than 200 estimated to remain in the wild.

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Alligator FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are crocodiles herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Crocodiles are carnivores, which means they eat other animals.

To which kingdom do crocodiles belong?

Crocodiles belong to the animal kingdom.

What phylum do crocodiles belong to?

Crocodiles belong to the phylum Chordate.

What kind of crocodile is it?

Crocodiles belong to the class of reptiles.

What family do crocodiles belong to?

Crocodiles belong to the Crocodile family.

What order do crocodiles belong to?

Crocodiles belong to the order Crocodilians.

What genus do crocodiles belong to?

Crocodiles belong to the genus Alligator.

What type of mulch do alligators have?

Alligators are covered with plate-like scales.

Where do crocodiles live?

Crocodiles live in North, Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.

What type of habitat do crocodiles live in?

Crocodiles live in rivers, lakes, swamps, lagoons, mangrove swamps and estuaries.

Who are the natural enemies of crocodiles?

Natural enemies of crocodiles include humans, big cats and birds of prey.

What interesting facts about crocodiles?

Crocodiles have changed very little in 200 million years!

What is the scientific name of the crocodile?

The scientific name of the crocodile is Crocodylus acutus.

What is the lifespan of a crocodile?

Crocodiles can live from 20 to 70 years.

What is the name of the little crocodile?

Baby crocodiles are called to hatch.

How many crocodiles are there?

There are 13 species of crocodiles.

What is the biggest threat to crocodiles?

The biggest threats to crocodiles are habitat loss and hunting.

What is another name for crocodile?

Crocodiles are also known as American crocodiles, Orinoco crocodiles, freshwater crocodiles, Philippine crocodiles, Mexican crocodiles, Nile crocodiles, New Guinea crocodiles, muggers, estuarine crocodiles, Cuban crocodiles, Siamese crocodiles, dwarf crocodiles, or fine-nosed crocodiles.

How many crocodiles are left in the world?

The population size of crocodiles is unknown.

How fast is an alligator?

Alligators can travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

How do crocodiles give birth?

Crocodiles lay eggs.

Who will win in a fight: crocodile vs gorilla?

In a crocodile versus gorilla contest, the crocodile will likely win.

Encounters between crocodiles and gorillas are likely to take place near the water. In that space, the force of a crocodile's bite is enough to crush a gorilla, causing the crocodile to drag it underwater.

Who will win in a fight: crocodile vs. bear?

A crocodile-bear battle will pit two of the world's largest predators against each other. While crocodiles have an advantage close to water, bears can contend with crocodiles on land.

What is the Difference Between Crocodiles and Caimans?

There are many differences between caimans and crocodiles, including their species. These reptiles also vary in appearance and dietary preferences.

Where in the world do crocodiles live?

Crocodiles live in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia. They live neither in Europe nor in Antarctica.

Do alligators live in Florida?

Alligators live in Florida, but there are fewer than 3,000 of them.

What is a group of crocodiles called?

A group of crocodiles is called a bask.

Who would win a fight between a king cobra and a crocodile?

The crocodile will win the fight with the king cobra. If the king cobra bites the crocodile first, it probably won't matter.

Alligators have thick skin. While king cobras have 0.5-inch fangs, that's probably not enough to deliver venom into the crocodile's system. Even then, crocodiles can catch fleeing snakes and kill them.

Who will win in a fight: Great White Shark vs. Crocodile?

A great white shark would win a fight with a saltwater crocodile.

These deadly creatures are very powerful, but great white sharks have an amazing advantage in the water. Not only is this animal likely to be the first to notice an alligator, but it also has the speed to unleash a devastating attack.

Who would win in a battle: Shoebill vs. crocodile?

The crocodile would win the fight with the shoebill.

Crocodiles' size, strength and brutal ambush techniques give them a huge advantage against these birds.

Who would win a fight: tiger shark vs crocodile?

Tiger sharks almost always kill crocodiles. The Tigersharks have won 9 of 10.

Tiger sharks always have an advantage over crocodiles in open water. It can swim faster, maneuver better, and breathe underwater. If the fight takes place underwater, the tiger shark almost always wins.

Bull Shark vs Alligator: Who Will Win The Fight?

We predict that if a bull shark encounters a crocodile in open water, the crocodile will win 6 times out of 10.

The reason this fight is so close is mostly due to the scale. American alligators have a significant size advantage over bull sharks, which makes it difficult for the sharks to attack adults. What's more, the shark has to specifically target the crocodile's underbelly to do any real damage. Any attack that misses the belly deals damage, but is not fatal.

What is the difference between a Nile crocodile and a saltwater crocodile?

The most notable differences between Nile crocodiles and saltwater crocodiles are their size, coloration, and preferred habitat. The average saltwater crocodile weighs more than the Nile crocodile, between 400 and 1,150 pounds, while the average Nile crocodile weighs between 500 and 910 pounds.

What's the difference between a crocodile, an alligator, a caiman, and a crocodile?

Within the order Crocodilians, there are four different types of reptiles, including crocodiles, caimans, alligators, and gharials. The main difference between crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and crocodiles is their anatomy, crocodiles have a "U-shaped" nose, crocodiles are slimmer, crocodiles are very thin, and caimans have a pointed snout. Other differences include size, location of discovery and breeding habits.

How to say the crocodile is…

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source
  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animals, The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) Encyclopedia of World Animals
  3. David Burney, Kingfisher (2011) The Animal Encyclopedia of Kingfishers
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) Atlas of Threatened Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia
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