The Nile Crocodile is Africa’s largest and world’s second largest reptile.
It is a large crocodile native to fresh water habitats of Africa, currently present in 26 countries. They have an average life span of 45 years in the wild and more than that in captivity.
Some Facts and Information
Common Name Nile Crocodile
Genus Species Crocodylus
Scientific Name Crocodylus Niloticus
Description Crocodiles are basically large, lizard shaped reptiles with four short legs and a long muscular tail. Their skin is very rough and scaled. Nile crocodiles are olive to brown in colour. They have darker crossbands all over their body.
Size They have a minimum length of 5m(16 ft, approx.) and a maximum of 6m(20ft, approx).
Weight They weigh from 500 pounds to 1650 pounds. A 1650 pound crocodile is equal to average half the weight of a car.
Diet More than 70% of the crocodiles eats fish but sometimes they also eat porcupines, birds, small hippos and other crocodiles too. They can eat up to half of their body weight. While preying they make a semicircle around their prey and the one who attacks faster gets to eat the prey.
Alt: Appearance of Nile Crocodiles
Description: Nile crocodiles are full of teeth, have rough and very scaled skin
Range and Habitat
The Nile crocodile is widely distributed across Sub-Saharan Africa. The reptile most frequently occurs in the central, eastern, and southern regions of Africa as well as Western Madagascar. Being aquatic animal, Nile crocodile is typically found in rivers, large freshwater lakes, freshwater swamps, mangrove swamps as well as coastal estuaries.
The Nile crocodiles are solitary animals. However, they can occasionally be seen feeding in small groups, consisting of several individuals. They usually use a special technique, enclosing an area of water in order to concentrate fish within it. Then, dominance hierarchies decide, in what order the members of the group will feed. These reptiles are mainly nocturnal. By day, the crocodiles typically sunbathe or cool off in the water if needed. Male crocodiles are highly territorial; they patrol and defend their territories, which often include a part of the shoreline, extending about 50 meters into the water. Nile crocodiles usually dive for a few minutes, before they come to the surface; however, when threatened, they are able to remain submerged for up to 30 minutes. Moreover, when completely inactive, these reptiles are capable of holding their breath for as long as 2 hours. They are exceptionally fast runners, and in general, these crocodiles have very quick reflexes, but, unfortunately, tire quickly.
Nile Crocodiles as parents!
Although Nile crocodiles resemble armoured tanks with huge, teeth-filled mouths, these reptiles are unusually attentive parents.
How do they mate?
When a large male Nile crocodile spots a female that catches his eye, he bellows and splashes, slapping his snout on the water to get her attention. He grunts and growls, and sometimes, inhales as hard as he can, submerging his snout and blowing water through his nostrils, producing a fountainlike spray.
Breeding and Incubation
The female croc is ready to lay her eggs nearly two months after mating. She scouts the area for a suitable nest site in which to lay the eggs, usually digging a hole on a riverbank, shoreline, or dry streambed.
She deposits from 25 to 80 eggs in the nest, then settles in for a long vigil. For a reptile, it’s an unusual display of devotion. Other reptiles lay their eggs, then move on. The female croc, however, will keep constant guard over the nest during the three-month incubation period, leaving only to cool off in a nearby shady spot or for a quick dip in the water. The male is usually close by to help scare off predators.
Just before hatching, the young crocs send out high-pitched sounds—a signal for help. The female digs up the nest. The mother croc then carefully picks up the 12-inch-long (30.5-centimeter-long) hatchlings in her mouth and carries them to the water. The young crocs live under their mother’s protection for up to two years, feeding on insects and small fish and growing about a foot (about 30 centimetres) each year.
- A crocodile’s ectothermic metabolism is extremely efficient. A large crocodile, which may weigh more than 900 Kg (2000 lb.), can survive for long periods of time between meals.
- If baby crocodiles are in danger, the adult female may pick them up and flip them into her mouth or gular (throat) pouch for protection.
- When fish are migrating, crocs may hunt cooperatively by forming a semi-circle across the river and herding the fish. They then eat the fish that are closest to them.
- When young crocodiles are hatching, either parent may help them out of the egg by rolling it between their tongue and palate. This cracks the shell allowing for an easier escape.