We explain everything about crocodiles, where they live, what they eat, and other characteristics. Also, the largest crocodiles in the world.
Crocodiles emerged in the Cretaceous period and have changed very little since then.
Normally, we call crocodiles a group of large reptiles with semi-aquatic life, which constitutes a zoological order called Crocodilia, in which three families have a place:
Although not zoologically exact, it is common to refer to any of these reptile families as "crocodiles."
Crocodiles are ferocious, stocky-bodied predators with thick skin and large, serrated mouths, leading solitary, territorial lives. They emerged on the planet during the Late Cretaceous period, 83.5 million years ago, and have changed very little over the centuries, being today the closest evolutionary relatives of today's birds.
Known to mankind since ancient times, crocodiles have occupied a place of respect and fear in different imaginaries, often playing the role of ancient and voracious creatures, although in Ancient Egypt they were animals sacred to Sobek, god of fertility, vegetation, and life, patron of the Nile River where these animals abounded.
Starting in the 9th century, the myth that crocodiles cry for their victims became popular, which gave rise to expressions that refer to “crocodile tears” as a synonym for feigned pain or false sentimentality.
Many species of crocodiles are known, but only eight of them have been involved in attacks on humans. Instead, the main threat to the existence of many species of these animals is the human way of life, due to indiscriminate hunting and the destruction of their habitats.
Crocodiles are excellent swimmers.
In general, crocodiles are characterized by the following:
Crocodiles live mostly around lakes, lagoons, rivers, and even in saltwater, depending on the species since without being amphibians, they are animals perfectly adapted for swimming. They tend to prefer the lowlands of the intertropical climate zone in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
For their part, gharials are exclusive to Southeast Asia, while alligators are unique to the American continent.
Crocodile teeth can hold onto prey, but not chew.
Crocodiles are omnivores, but show a marked preference for a carnivorous diet, as they are formidable predators.
Whether they hunt alone or come together to deal cooperatively with large prey, they usually devour the victim whole or tear off large pieces that they devour without chewing, and so once their hunger is satisfied they must lie on the ground to undertake a slow and laborious process of digestion. Some species can even store carcasses underwater for later consumption.
Female crocodiles tend to care for their young until they mature.
Crocodiles reproduce sexually, oviparously. Dominant males tend to monopolize available females, which once fertilized lay their eggs in specially built nests on the banks of the river, in holes in the ground or mounds of vegetation, sand, or earth. The eggs, between ten and fifty for each clutch, incubate for two or three months and eventually hatch, releasing one offspring per egg.
Unlike other species of reptiles, female crocodiles usually care for their young until they mature, and some species even raise them together, in a kind of nursery in the care of some of the mothers.
In their natural habitat, crocodiles face high infant mortality from other predators, but as they mature they quickly rise to the top of the food chain. Depending on the size and the species, they have few rivals for care, so they can live between 35 and 75 years.
The marine crocodile can weigh between 480 and 1500 kg.
The largest known species of crocodiles are: