Crocodiles are the biggest reptile predators and among the ugliest animal species. They are found in the tropical areas of Asia, America, Africa, and Australia. The size of crocodiles varies depending on the type of species and the habitat. There are thirteen common species found in the world.
The smallest one is known as the dwarf crocodile that grows 1.7 meters on average in length, and the weight ranges from 6-7 kg. A giant crocodile which is 6.17 m long lives in saltwater. They weigh approximately one ton. The saltwater crocodiles are also excellent swimmers and have a lifespan of seventy years.
Some of the crocodile species include Nile, American, Saltwater, Cuban crocodiles, Gharial and Black Caiman.
Crocodiles are well-protected with their hardened, scaly skin. They are olive-green or grey-green with thin and long snouts. Their jaws are V-shaped and have visible lower jaws that stick out when the mouths are closed. It is what distinguishes them from alligators. The ears, nose, and eyes are on top of the skull. It enables the crocodile to see, breath and hear when they submerge. Also, when they sink, a protecting membrane like swimming goggles covers their eyes.
What Crocodiles Eat
Crocodiles are carnivores meaning they only feed on meat. In the wild, they usually eat crustaceans, birds, fish, and frogs. While at the zoo they feast on small animals that have been killed including rats, mice, and fish. Wild crocodiles do not usually chase their prey. Their hunting technique is one of surprise and attack. They can use their tails and strong hind limbs to spring out of the water.
Using their massive jaws, crocodiles usually clamp down on the prey, break it and swallow it whole. However, they are not able to chew and tear other small animals. Furthermore, they swallow small stones to assist in with digestion by grinding up their stomach food. They have a slow metabolism and can go for long periods without eating especially nesting females.
They live in tropical regions because they are cold-blooded it means they do not generate their heat. Therefore, they depend on the temperatures of the water and sun to warm up. During cold weathers and long famine periods they hibernate.
The female crocodiles lay 10-60 eggs. They are attentive parents and guard the nest for the whole incubation period of 55 to 110 days. They are around 18 cm when they are born and mature when they are 4-15 years. The lifespan of the crocodile depends on the species. Some live for up to thirty years while others to around seventy-five years.
Crocodiles have existed for more than 200 million years. They have over sixty teeth, and if any falls out, it is quickly replaced. The animals do not sweat but open their mouths in a process known as mouth gaping to keep cool. Besides, they have a high sense of smell due to large olfactory lobes. They are also swift swimmers, swimming up to 32kph and can hold their breath for one hour underwater. Crocodile skin is rare because hunting them is illegal making the skin to cost more than $10,000.
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