Crocodile animal<<<< Back to reptiles
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Sauropsida
- Order: Crocodilia
- Family: Crocodylidae
- Conservation status: Not Evaluated
- Length: 2 - 7 m (3 - 22 ft)
- Weight: 225 - 550 kg (500 - 1200 lb)
- Food: Carnivore
- Speed: 18km/h (12mph)
- Predators: Human
- Sexual Maturity: 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) and 12–14 years of age
- Gestation Period: 2-3 month
- Population: 200.000 - 300.000
- Lifespan: 40 - 70 years
- Litter size: 35-50 eggs
- Distinctive Feature: Armoured skin and large mouth with snapping jaws.
The crocodile represents a reptile order that along with birds are the last descendants of the Archosaurs, a group of dinosaurs. Crocodiles have descendants since 240 million years ago. There were discovered 23 species of crocodiles. All belong to the Crocodylidae family. The male crocodile can reach over three meters in length while the female rarely exceeds two meters.
There are some cases of giant crocodiles that can reach 5 or 6 meters length (saltwater crocodile). Both male and female live about 15 years. Crocodiles live in tropical regions of Africa and Australia while aligators live only in South America and North America. They do not live in Europe at all.
The word Crocodile means "the lizard of the river"
Crocodiles and their related species are carnivorous. The long jaw and facial appearance seem to have a sadistic grin, suggesting an aggressive and fierce behavior. Most people are terrified of crocodiles, although their food depends on their size and available prey around them. At first the hatchlings eat insects, tadpoles, snails, small fish, crabs and clams. Because they grow very fast and can only capture small animals, they eat very often.
When they grow, they begin to capture larger prey so the duration between the two meals increases. First it captures larger fish and other reptiles, and then starts hunting mammals. It grabs any creature that gets in his way, be it monkey, buffalo, zebra, snake or even humans.
Many animals fall prey to the crocodiles while quenching their thirst on the waterfront. Crocodiles also eat carrion, not only prey captured alive. No matter how sharp their teeth are, they still are not suitable for crushing and devouring the meat. When a crocodile or alligator grabs an animal on the shore, they usually catch it and try to pull it into the water to drown.
Many times it is forced to place the prey in a hole, until the skin gets tender and the meat starts decomposing, because only then it can shatter it with big bites. Sometimes the crocodile or alligator starts to roll in the water with the prey in their mouth to snatch large chunks of meat from it. Usually it fully swallows the chunk of meat from its mouth. Often the prey serves as food for several crocodiles that devour it on the spot. The crocodiles capture fish in shallow waters by simply closing their snout or piercing it with the teeth.
They swallow the fish whole, head first, so that the gills or bones won’t scratch their fragile throat tissue. Most species swallow various things, rocks, pieces of wood, along with the prey. These probably help the digestion that occurs rapidly in the stomach.
The crocodile's body is covered with bony plates and the circulation system kept some common features with the birds. The animals of today live on the banks of rivers or lakes in warm tropical or subtropical regions. Some crocodile species can be found in the salt water of the seas around islands. The animals are good swimmers, when they hunt they hide under water, with their eyes and nostrils on the surface.
The animals body is adapted to the environment it lives in, so the body is flattened on the dorsal-ventral side, and ends with a widened and muscular tail that helps with swimming or acts as a rudder. The mouth is wide and equipped with a powerful conical dentition. Crocodiles have a body length depending on the species between 1.20 and 7m. Fossile diggers found crocodiles that had lengths of 12 m. These animals grow throughout their lifetime, but with old age the growth process becomes slower, so old crocodiles grow only a few centimeters.
The skull is elongated, the eyes during evolution came to be placed dorsally, at the end of the snout there are the large oval nostrils holes, which are connected in such way that the animal even with a full mouth can breathe smoothly. The crocodile’s snout has different lengths depending on the feeding mode, so the one feeding on fish has a long and thin snout.
The nostrils and ear holes are closed in water. Sight helps them to detect food. The mouth is wide, and has conical teeth, unequal, fixed in jaw hollows called alveoli. The body is dorsal-ventral flattened, covered with fleshy plates, doubled by bony plates, welded together in the dorsal region. The tail is laterally compressed. It has five fingers on the forelegs and four fingers jointed by a membrane on the hindlimbs. They serve for movement in the water and on land. Goes ashore to rest.
Crocodiles hunt using the ambush method. They stand still and wait for the prey to come close. The prey can be either fish or land animals who want to quench their thirst. Crocodiles also eat different species of mammals but also birds and smaller crocodiles.
Four weeks after mating the female lays the eggs, and after three months of waiting, the young ones take their first steps. The nests in which the eggs are deposited are made along riverbanks, beaches, close to the water for the offsprings to be well protected from attackers. The female uses all her energy to defend her hatchlings. The female lays 30 to 60 eggs, then camouflages the nest. Doesn’t spend much time there to avoid attracting the attention of predators that could eat the eggs.
After 3 months the female checks the nest. The young will hatch. They have between 85 and 115 grams. They are victims of racoons or oter predators who could easily eat them when they hatch. In general only 10%-15% of young survive. When hatching, they have a food reserve that can last 4 months. To protect them, the female will often carry them around in her mouth. At first the hatchlings are clumsy in the water , but stay close to their mother. Wondering off puts them in jeopardy, making them an easy prey for the animals in the river. They grow slowly, just 25-30 cm per year. At 3 years old they hunt small fish and insects, which become their main source of food.
At the age of 8 they can already reach 2 meters length. They feed on large fish, frogs, birds, snakes and even land animals that cross the rivers. At this age they can attack people too. They immediately attack the prey after it enters the water, following its instinct to attack. The crocodile tears the prey by rolling and swallows the chinks whole. If the river is crossed by a herd of antelopes, the hatchlings have a hard time capturing anything so they depend on the prey obtained by the dominant crocodiles. People fear them , and poachers, unfortunately, look to hunt them.
Did you know that:
The crocodile opens his mouth for the same reason dogs are panting?
Crocodiles like to stay in freshwater.
Male crocodile can reach over 3m length.