Wildlife Wednesday- 7 Amazing Facts About the Nile Crocodile!

By Nkosinomusa Nyoni

Scientific Name: Crocodylus niloticus

Size: Averaging approximately 5 m with maximum size of roughly 6 m

Weight: Adult crocodiles of both sexes may easily exceed 225 kg

Lifespan: 50 to 80 years

Top speed: 35 km/h (in water), 17 km/h (on land)

Diet: Up to 70% of the adult diet is fish. Other prey items may include zebras, hippos, porcupines, pangolins, and migrating wildebeest.

© Chris Collyer

I know most of you may know about crocodiles because of how scary they look and how dangerous they are based on the reports that have been shared and how they could be related to the ancient dinosaurs but here are 7 facts of the Nile Crocodile that you probably did not know about!  

1. THE HOTTER IT IS THE BETTER FOR MALES

The sex of crocodile hatchlings is determined by the temperature at which the eggs incubate. If the temperature is 30 ºC or less the hatchlings will be mostly female; at 31 ºC they will be mixed; and at 32ºC, they will be mostly male.

2. A STONE WILL DO

Large crocodiles swallow stones, known as gastroliths, and these act as a makeweight, helping them balance their body underwater and they can be useful for a crocodile that’s not getting enough to eat.

3. CROCODILE TEARS

The expression to cry ‘crocodile tears’, derives from crocodiles shedding tears, while they eat their prey. While this was originally an ancient belief, studies have shown that crocodiles eyes do water while they eat, but not with remorse – for biological reasons, due to the hisses and huffs during feeding.

4. THEY HAVE A MONSTROUS BITE

A crocodiles’ bite can exert a force eight times more powerful than that of a great white shark and 15 times more than a Rottweiler’s wow!  They have powerful muscles for closing the jaws, however, contrast with small, weak ones for opening them.

5. THEY DON’T LIKE WINTER

Since crocodiles are cold-blooded and cannot generate their own heat, they hibernate or go dormant during the colder months, and they will also go dormant during the long periods of drought. They create their hibernation spot by digging out a burrow in the side of river bank and settle in for a long sleep.

6. IT’S SAFER INSIDE MOTHER’S MOUTH

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.

7. THEY DON’T SWEAT

To keep cool, they open their mouths which is known as “mouth gaping,” very similar to panting. They are not displaying aggression when you see them with their mouths wide open! They often sleep with their mouths wide open to release heat.

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