Crocodile (animal) - Information, habitat and characteristics

Crocodile (animal) - Information, habitat and characteristics
Posted on 08-02-2022


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.

What are crocodiles?

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:

  • The crocodiles properCrocodylidae ).
  • The gavialsGavialidae ).
  • The alligators and caimansAlligatoridae ).

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.

Characteristics of crocodiles


Crocodiles are excellent swimmers.

In general, crocodiles are characterized by the following:

  • They are large animals, trunk-shaped, with a solid body that begins with an elongated snout that hides a lot of conical teeth, and ends with a long tail that is ideal for swimming. The whole is covered by rough skin, hard and composed of scales.
  • Their overall size varies depending on the species, but they can be around 2 to 3 meters long, with smaller species not exceeding one meter, and particularly large species capable of reaching 7 meters in length. Its weight, similarly, can reach 2000 kg in the most voluminous species.
  • They are excellent swimmers, and can also walk on dry land by crawling on their bellies or walking on their legs, and some species can even gallop at a good speed.
  • His eyes and nose are on top of his head, allowing the rest of his body to be completely submerged underwater. In this way, crocodiles can sneak up on their prey for the attack. They have a very powerful bite.
  • They spend most of their days motionless in the sun, saving energy from their particularly slow metabolisms, which are ectothermic in nature, that is, cold-blooded.
  • Their snouts can vary in shape and thickness according to family and species, and they have particularly strong muscles to keep their jaws closed, so that an ordinary person would be able to shut a crocodile's mouth shut, but would be in serious trouble at the same time. Time to force it open. A Mississippi alligator bite was measured in 2003 at 9450 N, and gharials have much thinner and weaker snouts than crocodiles and alligators.

Where do crocodiles live?

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.

What do crocodiles eat?


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.

How do crocodiles reproduce?


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.

How long do crocodiles live?

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 largest crocodiles in the world

largest crocodiles

The marine crocodile can weigh between 480 and 1500 kg.

The largest known species of crocodiles are:

  • The marine crocodileCrocodylus porosus ). It is the largest living reptile on the planet and the largest crocodile that exists, a typical inhabitant of Southeast Asia and northern Australia. Accustomed to seawater, they measure on average between 4.3 and 7 meters long and can weigh between 480 and 1,500 kg.
  • The Nile crocodileCrocodylus niloticus ). The largest of the four species of crocodiles in Africa, and one of the largest in the world, it has an average size of between 5 and 6 meters long, and between 225 and 730 kg in weight. Bright olive green in color, it inhabits the Nile regions, as its name indicates, but also the whole of sub-Saharan Africa and the island of Madagascar, exclusively in freshwater reservoirs.
  • The Orinoco caimanCrocodylus intermedius ). A species of crocodile endemic to the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela, which is in a critical state of conservation, it is an apex predator with an omnivorous diet, considered the largest predator in Latin America. Although specimens of 6 and up to 7 meters long have been obtained, on average they rarely exceed 5 meters and weigh 450 kg.
  • The American crocodileCrocodylus acutus ). The most common species in the entire American continent, with a presence from the state of Florida (USA) and the Gulf of Mexico, to the north of Peru and the south of Ecuador, it is typical of a warm climate and freshwater, and on average its Adult specimens range between 3 and 4 meters in length, and can exceptionally reach 6 meters and 500 kg in weight.

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