There are 23 species of crocodiles that live in the Southern reaches of the world. They can be found in swamps and everglades of the south-eastern U.S. in Central and South America, in Africa, Australia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Borneo. Crocodiles have long tapered snouts and alligators have broad snouts. Crocodiles can attack at lightning speed! They can kill animals as big and heavy as they are in most cases. They have been known to take down a water buffalo. They are crafty and smart and hunt according to their prey.
They will eat anything including small fish, turtles, gazelles and lions. They even swallow other crocs in defending their territory. They have even been known to swallow stones. Scientists suggest that they are used to ballast them for diving. Crocodiles don’t have litters of babies they have nests of eggs! These are called “clutches.” Some crocs will dig from 10-30 feet into a creek bank to make a burrow for their nest. Then they create a hidden entrance that is at the water line or just below. A clutch can have as little as 8 eggs or as many as 80!
The eggs take about 85 days or 3 months to incubate. Sometimes the mother will help the babies along by cracking the eggshells in her mouth gently as not to harm the babies. The largest crocodiles on earth are the saltwater crocs. They get their names from Salties because they can live in saltwater. The second largest croc is the Nile crocodile. Did you know that a crocodiles tongue is attached to the roof of their mouths and they can’t move them! The Nile Crocs use the environment to regulate their body temperature. They bask all day in the sun for heat. If they get too hot they release the air from their mouths. Some even live in caves.
The jaws of a croc can exert 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. They break through both bones and flesh! New born crocs are 10 inches long and survive on the remnants from the yolk sacs. The mother will carry them from the nest to the water. They grow 12 inches a year and can live up to 45 years and longer in captivity. In Madagascar the crocodile was almost extinct due to hunting them for their skins. Other threats are from fishermen’s nets and habitat loss.