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114

American crocodile

OLogy Series
animal
card
114

American crocodile

OLogy Series
animal

The American crocodile has lived on Earth for millions of years, but today their numbers are rapidly declining because they are hunted for their skins. These cold-blooded carnivorous reptiles have long pointy snouts full of sharp teeth. American crocodiles use their long tails and webbed feet to help them quickly swim through salty coastal waters.

After baby crocodiles hatch, mama croc sometimes:

plays with them

sings lullabies to them

picks them up with her mouth and carries them into the water

Are you right?

Correct!

Mother crocs guard their nests until their babies hatch. After they hatch, she gently carries them out of the nest and into the water in her mouth. Mother crocs want to give their babies every chance to survive!

The temperature inside a crocodile nest will determine:

how smart the crocodile babies will be

how many male and female babies hatch

how tan the babies will be when they hatch

Are you right?

Correct!

Mother crocs can lay 20 to 50 eggs at one time. If the temperature of the nest stays at a toasty 89-91 degrees Fahrenheit, more males will hatch. If the temperature decreases, more females will hatch.

Crocodiles and alligators look exactly alike.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Alligators have rounded snouts, but crocodiles have pointy, triangular ones. Crocs also have a "fourth tooth" that sticks out even when its mouth is closed.

American crocodiles chew up their prey into tiny bits before they swallow.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Like all reptiles, crocodiles swallow their food whole. All it takes is a few big gulps! Now that's a mouthful!

American crocodile
Scientific name: Crocodylus acutus
Size: 12 to 20 feet long
Weight: up to 2,000 pounds
Habitat: coastal waters of Florida, Central America, and South America
Diet: fish, crabs, turtles, small mammals, birds
Characteristics: brownish green; long, pointy, triangular-shaped snout; 66 teeth

Image credits: courtesy of Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences.