Crocodiles belong to the family Crocodylidae. There are around 23 species of crocodiles throughout the world. The word crocodile has its origin from Greek word for lizard. Unlike other living creatures, crocodiles have negligibly evolved since the age of dinosaurs. Crocodiles are an important species in the food chain. They prey upon fish, small mammals, birds, alligators, small crocodiles and other few creatures in the water bodies. Their number is rapidly declining due to the destruction of their habitats and uncontrolled poaching. Crocodiles are declared endangered since August 2014. To understand more about the crocodiles we will have to know- Where do crocodiles live.
Characteristics Of Crocodiles
Crocodiles are successful predators with streamlined bodies. They are grey-olive or grey-green in color. They have a slender, long and V-shaped snout. A crocodile can not only swim very fast, but can also tuck its feet sideways while swimming to reduce the resistance of water. The ventral side, i.e. the belly and sides, of the crocodile is very smooth, while the dorsal side is thick and rugged, and has large scales. Crocodiles have 80 teeth and are classified as polyphyodonts. Crocodiles have cerebral cortex and their hearts are four chambered. Crocodiles release heat through their mouths, as they do not have sweat glands. Their mouths are open when they sleep.
Classification Of Crocodiles
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Crocodylia
- Family: Crocodylidae
- Genera: Crocodylus, Mecistopsand Osteolaemus
- Species: There are 13 species: acutus(American crocodile), C. porosus (saltwater crocodile), C. niloticus (Nile crocodile), M. cataphractus (African slender-snouted crocodile), C. rhombifer (Cuban crocodile), O. tetraspis (African dwarf crocodile)
Crocodile Habitat And Distribution
Crocodiles are found throughout Asia, Australia, Africa and America. They reside in various kinds of habitats. Mostly, the crocodiles live in shoreline habitats. They prefer living in shallow and deep waters. The habitat and distribution patterns of crocodile depend upon population density, population class, size of crocodiles and human encroachments.
Where Do Crocodiles Live?
Usually, crocodiles live near salty water. Crocodiles can live in water, as well as on land. But they need to stay close to a water body. Crocodiles are very dangerous. In case of an encounter with a crocodile, you should run away from a water body, as far as possible. The largest population of American crocodiles occurs in the Dominican Republic‘s Laco Enriquillo. It is a hyper saline and landlocked lake and is 130 meters below sea level.
Where Do Freshwater Crocodiles Live?
Freshwater crocodiles are generally found in Western Australia and Queensland, Northern Territory. Mainly, they will inhabit rivers, wetlands, creeks and billabongs. Freshwater crocodiles can live in the waters where the saltwater crocodiles cannot survive. Hence, they are found in Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge, where there are minimum chances of their coming in direct contact with salt water crocodiles.
Where Do Saltwater Crocodiles Live?
Saltwater crocodiles are widespread throughout India. They are also found in Western Australia, Northern Australia and near the Northern Territory, Queensland. During summers, they migrate towards the southern tip of Northern Queensland. During wet season, they inhabit freshwater swamps like rivers and tropical waters.
What Do Crocodiles Eat?
Crocodiles are very skilful predators. They eat fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, molluscs, crustaceans, amphibians and may occasionally eat small crocodiles too. Different types of crocodiles prey on different animals. In short, crocodiles eat all the animals that come across their way. They eat deers, cows, wild boars, small elephant, fish, gazelles, carrion, dingos, water buffaloes, wildebeest, kangaroos and human beings. It is also discovered that crocodiles may eat sharks, occasionally. Crocodiles have very acidic stomachs, so they can digest horns, bones and hooves too.
How Long Do Crocodiles Live?
Crocodiles have an average lifespan for up to 70 years. It is recorded, that a crocodile in a zoo of Russia died at the age of 115 years, in 1997. It is very difficult to measure the age of a crocodile due to many factors. Generally, the age of crocodiles is measured by lamellar growth rings and teeth and mouth. This method cannot give the age of any crocodile accurately. In another method for measuring the age of a crocodile, it can be tagged at the time of birth and the record should be kept until its death. This is not a very accurate method too. “Mr. Freshie”, a crocodile that was rescued by Steve Irwin and Bob Irwin is believed to have lived up to an age of 120-140 years, in an Australian zoo.
What sounds do crocodiles make for communication amongst themselves and with other animals?
- Peeping – When the young ones are about to hatch from the eggs, they make a peeping or a chirping sound. After this, the female excavates the nest and transfers the hatchlings into water. For several months, they remain in group, protected by the female.
- Threat call – It is a kind of hissing sound and can be classified as a coughing sound too.
- Distress call – The young crocodiles make a high pitched sound when they want to indicate danger or attack.
- Hatching call – A female makes a peculiar sound after laying eggs to inform other crocodiles about it.
- Bellowing – A low-pitched sound called ‘bellowing’ is made by male crocodiles to advertise their presence. It occurs in spring, most often.
Facts About Crocodiles
- Though crocodiles come under the classification of reptiles, they resemble birds and dinosaurs more.
- The largest saltwater crocodile ever recorded was 28 feet long and weighed 2,870 pounds. It was shot in Queensland, Australia in 1957.
- Crocodiles cool down themselves by sleeping with their mouth open.
- Crocodiles can swim with a speed of 32 kph.
- On land, they can run only a short distance, i.e. with about 11 kph of speed.
- They can hold their breath under water for 1 hour.
- Crocodiles can apply a pressure up to 5000 pounds through their jaws.
- Hunting of crocodiles for their skin to trade is illegal.
- Crocodylus acutus is a species of crocodiles that is included in IUCN Red list.
- Crocodiles are believed to have appeared 240 million years ago, along with dinosaurs.