Crocodiles have swanned the freshwater bodies of this planet for millions of years. They were there when dinosaurs were the apex predators, survived several mass extinctions and climatic upheavals and are now struggling for survival in the age of humans. Long before Steve Irwin laid bare their personal life on our TV screens, these modern day dinosaurs have been fighting for their place in a world dominated by man. This prehistoric animal is found in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas where they inhabit lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams, feeding on anything that had the misfortune to meet its mighty jaws. It’s very image portrays brute strength and aggression with its formidable jaws armed with razor sharp teeth and thick black skin covered in bones called osteoderms that can even stop bullets. No wonder, even lions and hippos give this battle tank a wide berth. If you want to know more on this lizard, then go through the various facts given below.
Scientific Name: Crocodylus niloticus
Diet: Mammals, fish and birds
Size: 5 feet to 20 feet
Lifespan: 40 to 50 years
Habitat: Rivers, lakes and wetlands
Incubation Period: 3 months
Number Of Eggs: Average of 50
Interesting And Amazing Facts On Crocodile
- The saltwater crocodile is the largest of all the 23 species found worldwide. It can reach about 23 feet and weigh about a tonne. The smallest crocodile is the dwarf crocodile with a maximum length of 6.5 feet.
- The crocodile can slow down its metabolism so low that it can stay for about 2 years without eating.
- It has a strong digestive system enabling it to digest feathers and bones.
- It has an average life span of 50 to 60 years and can live up to a maximum of 80 years.
- The reason why a crocodile keeps its mouth open when on the bank is to dispel heat, as it doesn’t have any sweat glands.
- On land, it can run at a speed of 28 miles per hour, but gets tired very soon, while it can swim at a speed of 25 km per hour under water. It can swim only with the help of its powerful tail and keeps the legs close to its body to reduce the resistance. A crocodile can also jump several meters above water and stand underwater for 2 to 3 hours.
- A crocodile has 24 sharp teeth that are designed to crush and grasp their prey. However, it cannot chew with its teeth. It swallows large chunks of its prey whole. To help in the digestion a crocodile swallows stones to grind its food.
- The jaws of a crocodile are very strong, exerting a bite force of 5000 pounds per square inch. However, it cannot open its jaws with much force. Though powerful, the jaws are also very delicate as it can grasp its infants without harming and sometimes helps in hatching the eggs by gently cracking the shells with their jaws.
- The crocodile is closely linked to birds and like them, it also has a four chambered heart. When under water, the heart behaves like a reptilian heart, which has three chambers enabling them to stay underwater for long durations.
- Crocodiles have survived on this planet since the time of dinosaurs and have been here for more than 200 million years. Even today, after such long years of evolution, they look somewhat the same as they did years ago.
- A crocodile has tongue, but cannot stick it out of its body like other reptiles.
- It will eat anything that it can sink its teeth into other than a bird called the Egyptian Plover. This is because it has formed a symbiotic relationship with the plover. When the croc keeps its mouth open, the bird will enter and feed on various parasites breeding there and bit of decaying meat stuck in the teeth.
- It has an excellent sense of hearing.
- In crocodiles, the sex is determined by the temperature at which the eggs have been incubated as the eggs do not have any chromosomes. Eggs hatched at 31.6° C results in males and if they are hatched at a slightly lower or higher temperature, females are produced.
- The crocodile is considered to be a totem god by some tribes in New Guinea. Ancient Egyptians also venerated this animal.
- A crocodile can see in the dark as its eyes can reflect light, which makes the eyes shine red when light is shone into them at night.
- A female crocodile nests on the bank where it constructs a deep burrow and lays about 8 to 80 eggs. She then covers up the nest with sand. After 3 months of incubation, the eggs hatch.
- Despite its prehistoric look, a crocodile is a biologically complex reptile. Apart from a four-chambered heart, it also has a cerebral cortex and the equivalent of a diaphragm. This is unlike other reptiles and so makes it closer to mammals and birds.