Large scaly-skinned reptile
with a long, low body and short legs. Crocodiles can grow up to 7 m/23 ft in length, and have long, powerful tails that propel them when swimming. They are found near swamps, lakes, and rivers in Asia, Africa, Australia, and Central America. They are fierce hunters and active mainly at night. Young crocodiles eat worms and insects, but as they mature they add frogs and small fish to their diet. Adult crocodiles will attack animals the size of antelopes and, occasionally, people. They can live up to 100 years and are related to the alligator
and the smaller cayman.
Types of crocodile
There are 15 species of crocodile, all of them endangered, found in tropical parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central America. The largest is the saltwater (indopacific) crocodile Crocodylus porosus
, which can grow to 7 m/23 ft or more, and is found in eastern India, Australia, and the western Pacific, in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. The Nile crocodile C. niloticus
is found in Africa and reaches 6 m/20 ft. The American crocodile C. acutus
, about 4.6 m/15 ft long, is found from southern Florida to Ecuador. The gavial, or gharial, Gavialis gangeticus
is sometimes placed in a family of its own. It is an Indian species that grows to 6.5 m/21 ft or more, and has a very long narrow snout specialized for capturing and eating fish. The Cuban crocodile C. rhombifer
has a short snout, grows up to 3.5 m/11.5 ft, and lives in freshwater swamps in Cuba. Morelet's crocodile C. moreletti
is found in Central America, where it is overhunted, and grows up to 3.5 m/11.5 ft. Johnston's crocodile C. johnstoni
is an Australian crocodile that feeds mainly on fish and reaches up to 3 m/9.75 ft in length. The Siamese crocodile C. siamensis
is found in the wild in Cambodia and Laos. These populations consist of only a few hundred crocodile, making the Siamese one of the most endangered crocodile species. The Philippine crocodile C. mindorensis
is found in the Philippine Islands and grows to just under 3 m/9.75 ft. C. palustris
is an Indian crocodile resembling the Nile crocodile but smaller, reaching up to 4 m/13 ft. The Orinoco crocodile C. intermedius
grows up to 6 m/19.5 ft. Tomistoma schlegelli
is found in rivers in India and Indochina and grows up to 4 m/13 ft. The African slender-snouted crocodile C. cataphractus
grows up to 4 m/13 ft and is found in western and central Africa. Osteolaemus tetraspis
, the dwarf crocodile, reaches only 2 m/6.6 ft in length and is found in the tropical forests of west and central Africa. The New Guinea crocodile C. novaguineae
reaches 7 m/23 ft in length.
© RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.