Latin name: Crocodylus nioloticus
Lifespan: 80 - 100 years, seldom more.
Length and weight:
Mature Nile crocodiles average 4 to 5 meters in length with exceptionally large specimens reaching 6 meters. Large adults can weigh over 1000 kg.
Crocodiles are found in most game reserves throughout Africa, taking preference to rivers, lakes and wetlands.
Diet and Feeding:
Their diet varies quite considerably depending on its age or size. Hatchlings prey mainly on insects, frogs, small fish and crabs. As they grow larger they then start preying off larger fish like catfish as well as birds.
Adults over 3 meters in length prey on birds, fish, various antelope species, monitor lizards, snakes, other predators including lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs as well as other crocodiles.
Crocodiles are opportunistic predators and help clean water sources by feeding off any carrion they may find.
Animals caught by crocodiles are normally dragged under water, causing suffocation. Larger prey species, too large to be dragged under water often die from a loss of blood and shock as a result of a number of different crocodiles gripping and tearing off flesh at the same time.
When feeding off large prey, the crocodile, using its powerful jaws and gripping teeth, thrashes the prey around until small enough pieces to swallow are torn off.
Crocodiles feeding on the same animal under water grab hold of the prey with a tight grip and then spin their bodies in order to break pieces of flesh off.
Nile crocodiles are sexually mature at about 12 – 14 years. Fertilization is internal with mating taking place in the water.
When the female is ready to lay eggs, she then looks for a suitable nest site with sufficient cover.
A hole is excavated in a sand bank above the flood-line and after depositing a clutch of between 20 and 80 eggs she then fills the hole up with sand again.
The female is highly protective over her nest and defends the eggs from being eaten by predators such as monitor lizards, water mongoose, baboons and monkeys. During this period she does not eat but will on occasion drink water.
The eggs incubate for 3 months and on hatching the young make high-pitched cheeping sounds, which attracts the mothers’ attention to the nest.
The female then digs open the nest and using her jaws, she gently cracks open any unhatched eggs, once done she then carefully carries the hatchlings in her mouth to the river. The young crocodiles stay with their mother for about 2 months before leaving on their own.
Only 2% of crocodiles reach full maturity as a result of being preyed on by monitor lizards, water mongoose, catfish and birds of prey.