Crocodile | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Crocodile

Crocodiles are considered to be some of the most organised reptiles. This is because they have a very complex anatomy and physiology, as their nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems are unique and unparalleled.

Crocodiles are some of the most interesting yet dangerous creatures on earth. Crocodiles are also one of the oldest reptile species. They appeared about two and a half million years ago and have hardly changed since then. Their unique abilities and skills make them one of the most successful predators on the planet. They are common in almost every corner of the world. There are currently twenty-three known species of crocodiles. They are all divided into three families: crocodile, alligator and gavial. Crocodiles are a well-studied reptile species, but nevertheless, many people are unaware of many interesting features that are specific to them. The most interesting facts are listed below:

Fact number one.

The largest species of these reptiles to date are the crested or marine crocodiles. Adults of this species can reach seven metres in length and weigh about a tonne. The jaw strength of this monster can reach two and a half tons. They are called ‘marine’ crocodiles because they can thrive in both fresh and salt water. But these seeming giants look tiny compared to the prehistoric crocodile species Sarcosuchus. It was more than twelve metres long and weighed seven to eight tonnes. The head of this giant was the size of an adult’s head. On average, crocodiles live about fifty years. But some species can live as long as a hundred years. The oldest crocodile today is one hundred and thirty-four years old.

Fact number two.

Despite their short legs and apparent clumsiness, some crocodiles can run very fast, albeit over short distances. The black caiman, for example, can run at speeds of up to fifty kilometres per hour.

Fact number three.

Outwardly, it is very difficult to determine the age of a crocodile. Only the annual rings on a slice of crocodile bone, like on a tree, can tell exactly how old they are. Crocodiles’ jaws are studded with sharp teeth. There can be six to seven dozen of them, depending on which species the crocodile belongs to. In addition, a new tooth begins to grow in place of the tooth that has fallen out. This process continues throughout the reptile’s life. Crocodile teeth are cone-shaped and always hollow inside. They wear out rather quickly. On average, these predators keep their teeth for 1-2 years.

Fact number four.

Crocodiles can only live in warm climates. At temperatures below +20 °C, most of them cannot even move, freezing motionless, and when the temperature drops below +11 °C, they die.

Fact number five.

Crocodiles’ jaws aren’t designed for chewing. Therefore, these predators tear their prey into large chunks and then simply swallow them without chewing.

Fact number six.

When hunting crocodiles usually do not try to kill their prey with their teeth but try to suffocate or drown it. Sometimes they also hide the body of their prey somewhere underwater, and return to the meal after a few days, when the meat has softened, because in this state it is easier to tear into pieces and eat.

Fact number seven.

Some crocodiles hibernate for the winter to survive the cold season. So does, for example, the Chinese alligator, known for its non-aggressive temperament: it can bite a human only in self-defense.

Fact number eight.

Alligators and crocodiles have the most powerful bite of any animal on the planet. In a study published in 2003, the bite of a 272-pound Mississippi alligator was measured at 9452 Newton. In a 2012 study, a higher figure of 16414 Newtons was obtained from a 531-pound captive alligator, and the bite force of a 1308-pound alligator was 34424 Newtons. By comparison, in the average human it is about 1,500 Newtons.

Fact number nine.

These predators are quite capable of climbing trees, unless, of course, they have grown so big that the branches can no longer support them. But researchers have more than once managed to catch large Nile crocodiles perched on branches.

Fact number ten.

Female crocodiles lay an average of ten to a hundred eggs at a time and breed once a year. Ninety percent of the eggs do not survive to hatch and 90% of the little crocodiles fall prey to other animals, so only one egg in a hundred eventually develops into an adult crocodile. The incubation temperature of crocodile eggs determines which sex of crocodiles will hatch. If the incubation temperature is between +31°C and +32°C males will hatch, if higher or lower — females. For crocodile eggs to develop normally, the temperature must be maintained at +25°C for 90-100 days, so only really hot regions of the Earth are suitable for these animals.

Every year on 17 June since 2017, World Crocodile Day is celebrated around the world. The holiday is initiated by the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) and the Belize Zoo. CRC is a non-profit organisation established in January 2016 and based in Belize. Crocodiles are undoubtedly ferocious and scary, but they play a vital role in ecosystems.

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