Nile Crocodile – from the Cretaceous to our days
Where to find
Nile crocodile is present in all Sub-Saharan Africa. There are some discussions about the populations of the west and central Africa. Someone consider these population a distinct species. The studies about the west and central populations were been deep and the result is a division in distinct species.
The habitat of the Nile crocodile is extremely various but the constant is the water presence. The preferred places are the rivers, the lakes, and even small streams. Nile crocodile can even inhabit salt water. The very adaptive nature of this animal permits him to survive and colonize many different habitats.
The dimension and appearance of the Nile crocodile have generated many fantastic reports. As usual, the reality needs to consider only the specimens physically measured. So now we can assume that this incredible animal is average around 4 meters length for male specimens in a range between 3.5 and 5 meters.
Noteworthy is considerate the average dimension in a constant decrease. This is happening because of the habitat anthropization. Africa is growing and humans need to share the primary sources of water with Nile crocodile. It is easy to understand nobody like to live with a killer like him.
Anyway, in the past was recorded some specimens very big. Some of those were almost 6 meters in length. The most famous is probably the one measured 6.45 meters in Tanzania and a weight of more than one ton.
The African populations got used to living close the crocodile. Imagine for example the communities on the banks of Lake Victoria or Lake Malawi. These populations every year lose around 200 people killed by the Nile crocodile. The human activities include the use of the water resources. Think about the fisherman’s for example or the women that use the water for cleaning and cooking. Humans can’t stay far from the water because the water is life.
Nile crocodile is a very particular animal. It appears on the earth one hundred thousand years ago and he saw the dinosaurs extinction. It is possible to think that his appearance it is not changed a lot over the centuries.
Nile crocodile hunting strategy
The body of this animal is the real limit in hunting. It is not good for hunt or fight outside water. His front paws have five fingers while the rears have four, he has palm paws. So is easy to understand his predisposition to live in the water. But living in the water and to be very big it is not an advantage.
So what is the Nile crocodile hunting strategy? It is simple, he stays hide underwater moving slowly. His eyes are above the head and protected by a membrane and his nostrils the, are above the nose and have a membrane. So this configuration of his head permit him to stay very close to the surface of the water but at the same time to see and breath.
When a prey is approaching the water for drink, he moves slowly and hides underwater. When he is close to the victim he jumps out of the water and he grabs it. With this simple strategy, he can hunt gazelles, impala, zebras but even lions and leopards. Anyway, his preferred dishes is the wildebeest of Great Migration. It is the most famous scenery in Africa and the Nile crocodile is the leading actor.
Despite his mouth has big teets and in a considerable number, he can’t chew the food. So he uses the twister technique to divide the prey into small pieces. In one time he can eat half of his weight and then he can stay more than one year without eating. This is another example of his adaptability.
Becoming an adult crocodile
Crocodile mom is even an example of the magnificence of mother nature. She lays up to 100 eggs and she waits with patients 90 days of incubation. The temperature will determine the sex of the hatchlings. Mom sometimes helps them to crack the shell with the mouth. After birth the hatchlings she will carry them in the water in a protected area. Sheltered from predators. When they are young the crocodile diet will be composed of small fishes and insects.
His classification is Last concern, that is meaning is under control but there are not big risks at the moment.
Scientific Name: Crocodylus niloticus Laurenti
English name: Nile Crocodile
Link to Red List page: Red List page of Nile Crocodile