Crocodiles and False Gharials: Crocodylidae
American Crocodile (crocodylus Acutus): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: The American crocodile is large, with the males averaging 10 to 11 feet (3 to 3.5 meters) long and females usually 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters) in length. The largest males, however, can reach a full 20 feet (6 meters), but such giants are extremely rare. Its body is a bit thinner than most crocodiles, and its snout becomes narrower toward the tip. It also has a noticeable lump on its snout in front of its eyes. Adults are usually dark brown to light brownish gray with a white belly. Youngsters are yellow to greenish gray with dark markings.
Geographic range: American crocodiles live in large groups in southern Florida, southern Mexico, Central America, numerous Caribbean islands, and northern South America.
Habitat: Also known as the American saltwater crocodile, this species can survive in various habitats from freshwater canals to somewhat salty marshes near the ocean coast.
Diet: Young American crocodiles catch and eat insects, tadpoles and frogs, crabs, and fish, and then switch to larger prey as they grow. Adults are able to feed on animals as large as cows and, in very rare cases, humans.
Behavior and reproduction: American crocodiles usually hunt at night and spend most of their days resting in the water or basking or sunbathing on shore, especially in the mornings and evenings. During very dry periods, they will dig a tunnel and remain inside until the rains return. Males and females mate from March to May, and each female lays 30 to 60 eggs in a hole that she digs. Sometimes, the mother may lay her eggs in a pile of rotting leaves and dirt instead. She stays nearby until the eggs hatch 80 to 90 days later. She then helps her babies out of the nest and watches over them for a few more days.
American crocodiles and people: This species very rarely attacks humans. Some humans, however, raid the crocodiles' nests to collect their eggs for food.
Conservation status: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) considers this species to be Vulnerable, or facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designates it as Endangered, or in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The primary threat to this animal comes from habitat loss. ∎
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Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesCrocodiles and False Gharials: Crocodylidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, American Crocodile (crocodylus Acutus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, FALSE GHARIALS CROCODILES AND PEOPLE