The world’s largest reptile species, also one of the oldest families on earth- an depth insight about Crocodiles.
Crocodiles can be seen in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, along various stretches of the Nile River and in Lakes Albert and Victoria.
A crocodile is a large amphibious reptile that divides its time between water and land .
They are 5 meters in length and have a net weight of a tone.
The word crocodile comes from the old Greek word Krokodilos that meant lizards.
It’s a large voracious aquatic reptile having a long snout with massive jaws, sharp teeth and a body covered with bony plates. They are also carnivores that eat fish, birds, mammals and other reptiles.
In Uganda, Crocs as they are usually called are in many water bodies of protected areas across the country and it’s hard to tell their number, but you can easily see some of them when you visit the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe and Kavumba recreational center in Wakiso district.
They are most found throughout the tropical areas of Africa, Asia, America and Australia and they are over 23 species with most of them being endangered because of poaching.
The largest Crocodile species is Salt water crocodile which can reach 13-18 feet in length and weigh up to 2200 pounds and the smallest species being a Dwarf crocodile which can reach 5 feet in length and weigh up to 40-70pounds.
Africa as a continent has three species of Crocs namely the Nile crocodile (which is the largest and best known) the Dwarf crocodiles which are commonly found in West Africa and the Slender Snouted crocodile but these are rarely found.
A Pygmy Nile Crocodile.
The Pygmy Nile Crocodile is a unique population of a distinct crocodile species distributed throughout West Africa including Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park.
These reptiles can live to 60, 70 and up to even 100 years but during this time they never stop growing but keep getting bigger and bigger. Although Crocs live longer in life, they can’t chew anything but instead their lower jaws only move up and down as they pound and crush food.
Crocodiles were created with nostrils that have valves which open and shut that water can’t easily rush into their lungs, with crystal eyes that have three sets of eyelids which helps them to hunt even in the dark and the nictitating membranes that keep them moist and clean but also work as water divers gaggles for underground work.
The reptile has the sharpest ear of any reptile and on top of that they have flaps that act as a loud speaker volume control, short stubby legs and webbed back feet for steering in water and blunter front feet for climbing and digging on banks and these have no lips.
Crocodiles have 24 very sharp teeth on each jaw but they can also tear apart flesh and swallow large chunks of meat. These sometimes also swallow stones to ensure faster grinding of food in their stomach.
The bellies of these dangerous reptiles have a gentle skin, but their back contains bony structures which make their skin bulletproof and can swim at 25metres per hour with the help of their powerful tail also one of distinctive characteristics of this predator. Crocs are often seen with their jaws widely open to cool themselves because they don’t have sweat glands.
Crocodiles often swallow meals whole and this is because of its inside acid bar that quickly liquidizes them and this is as powerful as car battery acid and it can easily dissolve bones too.
A crocodile is a cold blooded animal that depend on solar energy to raise its body temperature and it lives a straight forward life with only three duties eating, sleeping and lying in the sun.
Amongst all the reptiles, the Crocodile has the biggest brain but however much it’s like that, its size is as big as a human thumb.
A female Crocodile lays about 20-80 eggs after mating with a male (mainly during rainy season) and they hatch after three months however, it’s the temperature of the nest that determines the gender of the baby.
Baby Crocodiles hatch by themselves and they make a lot of noises from inside their eggs before they do and their first years of life are the most dangerous with only 2% of those hatched reach adult life.
A Croc moves with greatest ease inside water powered by its tail nearly half its body length. Its heart slows to 4bits a minute to conserve oxygen and slowing its metabolic rate can make it last under the water for close to 2hours.