Crocodiles are large reptiles that are found throughout the world in places such as Africa, Asia, Australia and the United States. They are mostly fresh water dwellers but in some locations crocodiles live in habitats with brackish water (slightly salty but not as salty as ocean water) or salt water.
There are over fourteen different species of crocodiles in the world today. They have common characteristics such as their archaic lineage that goes back to the time of the dinosaurs, where crocodiles have physically not change much over millions of years.
Crocodile is the most advanced reptile on Earth with a diaphragm, four chambered hearts and cerebral cortex. Most importantly, they are all ectothermic, meaning they use external temperatures to regulate their own. As a predator, crocodiles are not outmatched by many in their natural habitats and are fast even on land.
They all have webbed feet with extremely sharp claws and powerful jaw strength that can crush their prey using over three thousand pounds of pressure. They are carnivorous reptiles and are able to physically overpower their prey and use their sharp claws and super sharp teeth to rip and tear the flesh of their catch.
Every single crocodiles around the world possess the best hearing ability of any other animal where they have been known to be able to hear their babies cries while still inside their eggs. The physical appearances of some crocodiles vary but their internal bodies, organs and innate qualities are very much the same. Some other differences are location, diet, sizes, behaviors, breeding and natural habitat.
Table of contents
- Crocodile Facts
- Different Types of Crocodile
- The Basics of Crocodiles
- Difference Between Alligator and Crocodile
- What do crocodiles eat?
- Crocodiles Mating Habits
- How long do crocodiles live for?
- Interesting Tidbit
- Read more
Different Types of Crocodile
The saltwater crocodile is known as the largest living reptile in the world. It it also known as Marine Crocodile, Estaurine Crocodile, or Saltie. They are able to grow up to AT LEAST 21 ft! The saltwater crocodiles mate during the wet season.
They can be found in northern Australia, while a large population of these saltwater crocodile can only be found in the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary of Odisha. The saltwater crocodile also holds the world’s highest bite force record – they have a peak bite force of 3,690 lbf which is FAR stronger than the highest recorded value in hyena of 1,012 lbf.
Like the other species of crocodile, they are not choosy when it comes to eating – They will eat anything made out of meat. Amongst all other different types of crocodile, the saltwater crocodile is known to have the strongest tendency to feed on human beings.
African Dwarf Crocodile
The African Dwarf Crocodile is found in permanent pools, slow moving streams and rivers of water in rainforests mainly in West and West Central of Africa. The African Dwarf Crocodile is known to be the smallest living crocodile amongst other crocodile species as they generally grow no more than 5.90 feet (1.8 m).
They have very heavily armored backs, necks and tails with pronounced bone-like ventral scales. The adults are very dark in color while juveniles tend to be banded with darker and lighter brown on their tails and bodies with yellow patches throughout their heads.
The African Dwarf Crocodiles are also well-known for their short snouts that has equal width to length ratio. During wet season, they will become an aquatic predator and live mostly on a diet of fish, but when the dry seasons come their diets diminish and they feed mainly on crustaceans (crabs, lobsters etc), amphibians and other native prey.
African Dwarf Crocodiles are mainly solitary creature until the wet season which will begin in May and June. During wet season they will gather to breed and build nest mounds in preparation for giving birth. Usually only ten to fifteen eggs are laid after breeding and the mother will guard the nest. On average, the period of incubation is between 85 to 105 days.
The African Dwarf baby crocodiles are born at an amazing length of twenty eight centimeters. When the babies are born they are extremely noisy and will alert their mother to help them escape their nest, she will also remain with the babies in the water to protect them from predators. They are probably one of the least known species due to the lack of research studies done on them. The African Dwarf crocodile have a lifespan of up to 75 years, impressive huh?
The Freshwater Crocodile is found in the Northern Territory of Australia, Queensland and Western Australia in fresh water creeks, rivers, wetlands and billabongs. Despite the fact that they are usually found in the rivers, they can also live in salt water.
Freshwater Crocodiles are one of the moderate-sized species with an average size about 5 feet but can reach the lengths of about 9.8 feet or 3 meters. However, it would take a male crocodile of this species over thirty years of it average fifty year lifespan to reach this size.
Their overall appearance is a light shade of brown with darker bands on their tails and bodies. The scales are very large and their backs are heavily armored with close weaved intertwined plates. They have super strong tails and webbed feet along with a clear covering over their eyes to protect them while underwater.
The Freshwater crocodile has narrow tapering snouts which can be considered as an adaption to their diet as they are mainly feeding on fish. They will also feed on crustaceans, amphibians, insects, small birds and animals if and only when they have the chance to do so. Their snouts have up to eighty sharp teeth and they are known to aid digestion by swallowing rocks!
Freshwater crocodiles are more social in nature and tend to have large amounts of them in one general area during the dry season in the early to late May. Mating takes place three to six weeks before the eggs are laid and buried in the female dug-holes. The eggs are generally laid between August to September and will be placed five to eight inches below the surface of the hole during night time.
The average length of incubation time is sixty to ninety five days and on average, the female will lay approximately thirteen to fifteen eggs. Temperature is important for these nests because that is the main factor that will decide the sex of the eggs, so frequent fluctuations are important to produce both sexes.
The mother freshwater crocodile will guard the nest as the eggs are stolen by wild pigs and lizards most of the time. When the eggs hatched, the female will carry them to the water in her mouth and stay with them for a short time to protect them. Their population is slowly declining because the percentage of an egg being successfully hatched is only 1% due to most of their eggs are being eaten or stolen by other predators..
They are not dangerous to human, but they will attack if they feel threatened. So please do not disturb them in any ways. Also, did you know that you can swim with freshwater crocodiles? We bet you don’t know that! 😛
Spectacled Caiman Crocodile
The Spectacled Caiman Crocodile is a medium-sized reptile with an average length of about six and a half feet or 2 meters. They weigh anywhere from fifteen to ninety pounds and are greenish gray in color – and they usually look darker (blackish) during cold season.
These spectacled Caiman Crocodile can be found in Caribbean, Central and northern South America, spectacled caiman crocodiles are usually in the fresh or salt water regions throughout the low wetlands, rivers, creeks and swamps. They are the most common crocodile on earth and are extremely adaptable to any type of habitat.
They have long snouts and have a very distinctive boney ridge in between their eyes. Most of the Spectacled Caiman diet consists of mollusks, insects and crustaceans while the larger caimans will feast on fishes and water snails. The older and larger a caiman becomes, they have the ability to eat larger prey such as wild boars.
The normal Spectacled Caiman matures sexually between five to seven years of age while the more dormant types maturing much sooner. They’d usually group and mate during the dry seasons from May to August and the females will dig nests in thick vegetation from July to November that will insulate up to forty eggs as they incubate.
They will incubate from 65 to 104 days and like most crocodile eggs, the temperature of the nest determines the sex. When the babies hatch they will be yellow with black spots and slowly change to the greenish gray color just like the parents.
Spectacled Caiman’s are extremely protective of their young and will stay with them up to one and a half years after hatching. They will also help protect other crocodile’s babies as well! Such a good babysitters they are! 🙂
Along with the Spectacled Caiman, there are other species of Caiman crocodiles throughout South America. Central South America hosts Broad Snouted Caiman Crocodiles while the Black Caiman shares portions of the Northern South American waterways with the Spectacled Caimans but is hunted and severely endangered due to their skins used for shiny black leather (luxurious goods)
On the left shore line of Central South America, there’s also this Yacare Caimans crocodile which are also facing severe extinction due to poaching and hunting. The northern portion is full of Cuvier’s and Schneider’s Dwarf Caiman. These other types of caiman tend to be in locations much less hospitable due to pollution from the gold mining industry and destruction of their natural habitats for industrial and commercial use.
Also, native to the northern tip of South America are the Orinoco Crocodiles. They are another species of the larger crocodilians found in the world with some of them growing as much as 7 meters! Their snout is long, lean and tilts slightly upwards.
They live in the freshwater of the Orinoco River most of the time during dry season and they will stay on the land during wet season. Their back and body armor is symmetrical and strong plated. Their colors vary from the gray green bodies with black splotches on their backs, light tan bodies with scattered black spots and the uniformly dark gray colors.
The Orinoco Crocodiles are the most endangered crocodiles in South America due to the illegal hunting and killing for their eggs and meat as food while their teeth are used for medical purposes.
The American Crocodiles are predominantly in the southern portion of Florida, throughout the Everglades region, they can also be found in Cuba, Jamaica, Southern Mexico, Central America and South America. These American Crocodiles may be confused for the alligators that are more prominent in Florida. Below you will find the major distinguishing the difference between alligators and crocodiles.
Their natural habitats are freshwater lakes, rivers, water basins and brackish water like lagoons and swamps. They have been known to travel large distances to find new habitats mainly because of the destruction and pollution of their current one.
They are actually quite shy and will tend to run in the face of threats, but don’t catch them off guard and don’t go near their young ones or you will be sorry. These American Crocodile are one of the largest crocodile species in the world and can grow upwards of over twenty feet (6 meters) in length.
The back is brown, olive and silver-ish in color and the armor it is not as thick as the other caimans. The smaller crocodiles in this species eat mainly small fish, snails and crustaceans while the larger American Crocodiles eat large fishes, crabs, turtles, snakes and smaller animals. They have been known to eat domestic pets and attacks on humans, but there is no recorded proof of either claim.
In each different environment, the crocodiles will adapt their mating and nesting strategies. The American Crocodiles are the “hole nesters” but for areas where this is impossible, the females will build mounded nests using vegetation and local natural filler materials. The mating season varies by location and is usually late February to late march.
With flooding being a major problem, the fruition of the eggs nesting occurs during the dry season from late March to the end of May and will nest between eight and fifty five eggs on average with incubation being on average of at least eighty six days. The nests can hold numerous eggs at one time and the mother crocodile will periodically visit the nest. However it has not been proven that they will defend their nests.
When the eggs hatches, they must be removed from the nest by the parents and they will only defend the hatchlings for two to several days. Like all other crocodiles their eggs sex is determined by temperatures during incubation periods and with the high rate of flooding making it impossible in some areas becoming less prominent in their natural habitats.
Their high value skin has also helped decline their numbers significantly along with the commercial and industrial use of their natural habitats. They are considered threatened in some areas and are extremely common in other areas.
The Mugger Crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinents like Iran, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The Mugger’s habitat has changed and adapted over time to man-made river bodies of slow moving waterways like reservoirs, canals but mostly in native rivers and marshes.
A younger Muggers colors are light tan with black bandings and adults are dark gray or tan without the pronounced black banding. Muggers are considered medium sized where they generally won’t get any bigger than five meters or sixteen feet in length. Their snouts are the broadest of all crocodilian species giving them an almost alligator appearance at times. Their general diets consist of fishes, crustaceans, insects, turtles, monkeys and snakes.
During the dry season, from December to February they dig holes (nest) for their eggs. Their mating season is usually one or two months prior to placing the eggs in their nests. The females generally lay twenty five to thirty eggs and hatch on average from fifty five to seventy five days. Muggers have been threatened by hunting for their skins, agricultural and commercial development and being hunted as food as well.
The New Guinea Crocodile
The Muggers’ close neighbor the New Guinea Crocodile resides in and around Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Found mainly in freshwater swamps, marshes and lakes and are a nocturnal breed. They are a relatively small crocodile ranging anywhere from eight to ten feet in length and their snouts are very narrow and long.
They have brown to gray with black banding over their bodies and tails. Being nocturnal they normally diet on fish, waterfowl, snakes, frogs, and other amphibians. Mound nests are used to hatch the eggs after mating season about two to four weeks after.
Their clutch is usually between twenty and forty eggs. The females do not actively defend their nests, but both the females and males will help evacuate the nests after they hatch. The New Guinea was once on the verge of extinction but with multiple programs and the need to regulate their hunting for their meat, eggs and skin has allowed them to thrive and flourish in numbers.
Sadly, this species of crocodile is very near to extinction.
They are found in the swamps Cuba (as the name would suggest), it can grow to nearly 10′ (3.05 meters) long. Not the largest, but definitely not a dwarf species either. Although it doesn’t bear too many striking features, it’s not a force to be reckoned with! The Cuban crocodiles are also known as “killer croc.”
What it lacks in visual distinguishing characteristics, it makes up for in ferocity. It has been reported by many experienced animal keepers that the Cuban crocodile may be the most aggressive species of crocodile around hence the reason why it is called a killer croc! Though one can’t say they’re harmless, fortunately reports of human casualties are not common. That’s definitely a good news, right? 🙂
The Basics of Crocodiles
Being cold-blooded and unable to heat their own bodies, they have to live in areas where there is a constant supply of warmth and sunshine for them to bathe in.
They will hibernate or simply slow down and rest a lot during any kind of prolonged cooler weather where they will usually burrows and then enjoy a long sleep. They will also do this when food is scarce and they need to conserve energy to avoid starvation.
Although they are comfortable on land and in the water, many crocodiles prefer to stay in the water. Their heads are designed with their ears, eyes and nostrils on top, so they can still use all their senses while almost completely submerged in the water. This also makes it easier for them to find prey without being detected too.
Should you travel to one of these swampy places, don’t mess around the bodies of water if you don’t have to. They’ll see you before you see them, and their outer skin is said to be bulletproof.
Difference Between Alligator and Crocodile
“Alligator VS Crocodile” – The usual question…
Honestly, to most eyes, these two look identical, however, they are not the same animal. Once you know what to look for, you’ll be able to tell alligators apart from crocodiles quite easily.
Here are a couple of things to look for when trying to figure out if the reptile in front of you is a crocodile or not: the snout, their smile, where they live, their coloring, their receptors, their tongues, andsurprisinglytheir romantic habits!
Clue # 1: The Snout
This is the easiest way to tell. A crocodile’s mouth is shaped like a “V” and it’s quite long. For many of them, fish comprises a large part of their diet, as well as a wide variety of little creatures, so this structure makes sense. Don’t be fooled, though: the bite of either animal would be a deadly one to humans, so although crocodiles have a weaker, less specialized jaw, they are still capable of doing serious damage. Alligators are much more stout-looking, with short, “U”-shaped snouts. Given that alligators often munch on turtles and other animals with hard shells, they definitely need the added strength in the jaw area.
This difference will be accurate in most cases, but there are a few exceptions to the classification. To be sure whether you’re looking at a crocodile or an alligator, you may need to check out a few of the other clues. While we’re still on the topic of snouts, let’s discover the next difference between alligators and crocodiles.
Clue # 2: The Smile (Teeth)
Look at the reptile’s smile. Can you see the bottom teeth when its mouth is closed? If not, then it’s an alligator. There are indentations on their upper jaw that their bottom teeth fit into, making them seem to disappear. Combine this with clue # 1, and your accuracy in identifying crocodiles from alligators should vastly improve.
On a crocodile, both sets of teeth are visible because they interlock with each other. One tooth on either side of their lower jaws will look a lot bigger than the rest. If you count towards them, you’ll notice it’s always the 4th tooth, and you can always see it when a crocodile’s mouth is closed.
Another thing – Alligators tend to have more rounded tips to their teeth, while crocodiles have teeth that are much pointier! However, it’s probably safer not to get close enough to actually notice that; you wouldn’t want that to be your last memory!
By the way. When crocodiles lose teeth, they always grow back–unlike humans. They can go through thousands of teeth throughout their entire life span. Giving all the ripping and tearing they do with their teeth, it is clear why this is necessary.
Clue #3 – Their Look and Homes
This clue is pretty easy. Both reptiles have coloring suited to where they live (darker or lighter bodies of water). Adult alligators are usually dark grey, and black in color, just like the swampy water they live in. Baby (or young) alligators are usually black with a pop of color somewhere on their bodies (like yellow or white). Alligators can’t handle a lot of salt, so they’re more likely to be found in freshwater regions. To narrow their location down even more, they’re mostly found in India and the Americas.
Crocodiles, on the other hand, are usually in a tan-ish color, or even brown. They spend their time in areas that aren’t quite as dark as alligator habitat, so their camouflage is a lot lighter. Salt isn’t a problem for them, so if you’re near saltwater habitats, you will most likely find crocodiles there.
Clue #4 – Their Tongues
Okay, does this sounds like a weird one? Maybe. 🙂
If you ever had the chance to (safely) look at the tongue of a crocodile, you’d notice salt-glands on them.
Crocodiles excrete the extra salt in their systems when they sunbathe with their mouths hanging open.
Alligators don’t have these, so being in salt-water areas aren’t so good for them.
Oh, and if you’re wondering why these animals lie with their mouths open in the first place, it is because they do not sweat. So this whole process is their way of cooling off. It’s kinda like what dogs do when they are too hot. You’ve seen it, the whole panting with their tongues hanging out thing… Remember?
For more information about Alligator vs Crocodile, please watch the video below:
Taken directly from DataCube
What do crocodiles eat?
Crocodile wait quietly, camouflaging themselves near riverbanks so they can ambush the next unfortunate creature that crosses their path. They may seem slow, but they definitely are not.
Although their diet is usually made up of fish, frogs, birds, and smaller reptiles, they will attack mammals and even humans if the opportunity arises. They don’t discriminate, so never believe that any crocodile is completely harmless.
If they can attack, they will attack. There is one animal they won’t eat, and that is the Egyptian Plover. This bird feeds on the wide variety of parasites residing between a crocodile’s jaws, and you wouldn’t try to eat your toothbrush, would you? Crocodiles will let these birds go and come freely.
They do have tongues, but they can’t stick them out the way other creatures can. Since they can’t chew either, they kill their prey by shaking and drowning them. The shaking is to break up the body, and drowning them well, that eliminates the struggle. Given the fact that they have the most deadly bite of any creature, being able to chew the mangled remains of their victims would seem beyond horrific.
Biting through most creatures isn’t an issue for them, as their jaws can apply as much as 5,000 lbs of pressure for every square inch. Whew …funny enough, they don’t have much strength in the muscles to open their jaws, so you could easily render them unable to open their mouths with your bare hands, or even a rubber band. Nothing is wasted; crocodiles eat all of the prey they kill. They have special juices in their stomach that are strong enough to break down the raw food, and will occasionally swallow small rocks to aid in this process.
Oh, and here’s something surprising: Crocodiles don’t eat that much, despite of their size, they eat about 50 substantial meals per year. That’s less than 1 decent meal a week! They often fast, especially female crocodiles that will not eat while they are watching their nests.
Crocodiles Mating Habits
The breeding season runs from January to May in most areas. A male crocodile usually becomes sexually active when they grow to 10 ft (3 m) long. Females become active at around 6.5 to 8 ft (2 to 2.5 m).
Male crocodiles call to eligible females with loud, bellowing noise, or by blowing water out of their noises. In fact, there are a few different things they do attract female crocodiles to the area, and once the ladies arrive, the larger males usually have the best luck in attracting a partner.
Once a match is made, mating takes place underwater.
Fast forward about a month. The female crocodile will fill a nest with several eggs; usually 20-40, though some researchers report as many as 90 in nest. Most won’t survive the year, so having that many eggs ensures that the species survives. Birds, other reptiles or even larger species of fishes will eat many of the eggs before they hatch.
There are also people who find crocodile eggs to be a delicacy, further reducing the numbers that survive. And even of those who manage to emerge from the eggs, they are even in danger of being eaten by unrelated adult crocodiles.
Between her watchful eyes and the leathery protective shell the eggs possess, they will incubate safely for 2-3 months. When it’s time to hatch, the babies will squeak and break open the egg shell from the inside with the little egg teeth on the tips of their snouts. They will need mommy’s supervision until they are large enough to fend for themselves.
How long do crocodiles live for?
It depends on the species (and, of course, life circumstances), but crocodiles generally enjoys a lifespan of 5 to 7 decades! They tend to grow quite quickly when they’re young then slow down dramatically as they approach their final years. Crocodiles living in areas with ideal conditions (good weather, lots of food, little competition) tend to grow larger and enjoy longer, higher quality life than those without.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “to cry crocodile tears?”
Crocodiles are often seen with tear-like liquids escaping from their eyes. They aren’t actually sad or crying, though. It’s a phenomenon most commonly observed while they are eating, where air from the sinuses gets forced into their tear ducts. Of course, the liquid leaks out, but the crocodile isn’t feeling sad, or emotional in any way.
So that’s how we ended up with the phrase that we apply to anyone who cry but doesn’t truly feel anything or any way about the situation. It’s all an act. (pretending to be sad)
The legend of Bujang Senang (The legendary Killer Croc) :
Real footage of crocodile attack:
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