Nile crocodile

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For the crocodile inhabiting west and northwest Africa, see West African crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_0

Nile crocodile_table_infobox_0

Nile crocodile

Temporal range: 2.5–0 Ma PreꞒ O S D C P T J K Pg N

Early Pleistocene – RecentNile crocodile_header_cell_0_0_0

Conservation statusNile crocodile_header_cell_0_1_0
Scientific classification CrocodylusNile crocodile_header_cell_0_2_0
Kingdom:Nile crocodile_cell_0_3_0 AnimaliaNile crocodile_cell_0_3_1
Phylum:Nile crocodile_cell_0_4_0 ChordataNile crocodile_cell_0_4_1
Class:Nile crocodile_cell_0_5_0 ReptiliaNile crocodile_cell_0_5_1
Order:Nile crocodile_cell_0_6_0 CrocodiliaNile crocodile_cell_0_6_1
Family:Nile crocodile_cell_0_7_0 CrocodylidaeNile crocodile_cell_0_7_1
Genus:Nile crocodile_cell_0_8_0 CrocodylusNile crocodile_cell_0_8_1
Species:Nile crocodile_cell_0_9_0 C. niloticusNile crocodile_cell_0_9_1
Binomial nameNile crocodile_header_cell_0_10_0
SynonymsNile crocodile_header_cell_0_11_0

The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is a large crocodilian native to freshwater habitats in Africa, where it is present in 26 countries. Nile crocodile_sentence_1

Due to its widespread occurrence and stable population trend, it has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 1996. Nile crocodile_sentence_2

It is widely distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa, occurring mostly in the central, eastern, and southern regions of the continent, and lives in different types of aquatic environments such as lakes, rivers, swamps, and marshlands. Nile crocodile_sentence_3

Although capable of living in saline environments, this species is rarely found in saltwater, but occasionally inhabits deltas and brackish lakes. Nile crocodile_sentence_4

The range of this species once stretched northward throughout the Nile, as far north as the Nile delta. Nile crocodile_sentence_5

On average, the adult male Nile crocodile is between 3.5 and 5 m (11.5 and 16.4 ft) in length and weighs 225 to 750 kg (500 to 1,650 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_6

However, specimens exceeding 6.1 m (20 ft) in length and weighing up to 1,089 kg (2,400 lb) have been recorded. Nile crocodile_sentence_7

It is the largest freshwater predator in Africa, and may be considered the second-largest extant reptile in the world, after the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Nile crocodile_sentence_8

Sexual dimorphism is prevalent, and females are usually about 30% smaller than males. Nile crocodile_sentence_9

They have thick, scaly, heavily armoured skin. Nile crocodile_sentence_10

Nile crocodiles are opportunistic apex predators; a very aggressive species of crocodile, they are capable of taking almost any animal within their range. Nile crocodile_sentence_11

They are generalists, taking a variety of prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_12

Their diet consists mostly of different species of fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Nile crocodile_sentence_13

They are ambush predators that can wait for hours, days, and even weeks for the suitable moment to attack. Nile crocodile_sentence_14

They are agile predators and wait for the opportunity for a prey item to come well within attack range. Nile crocodile_sentence_15

Even swift prey are not immune to attack. Nile crocodile_sentence_16

Like other crocodiles, Nile crocodiles have an extremely powerful bite that is unique among all animals, and sharp, conical teeth that sink into flesh, allowing for a grip that is almost impossible to loosen. Nile crocodile_sentence_17

They can apply high levels of force for extended periods of time, a great advantage for holding down large prey underwater to drown. Nile crocodile_sentence_18

Nile crocodiles are relatively social crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_19

They share basking spots and large food sources, such as schools of fish and big carcasses. Nile crocodile_sentence_20

Their strict hierarchy is determined by size. Nile crocodile_sentence_21

Large, old males are at the top of this hierarchy and have primary access to food and the best basking spots. Nile crocodile_sentence_22

Crocodiles tend to respect this order; when it is infringed, the results are often violent and sometimes fatal. Nile crocodile_sentence_23

Like most other reptiles, Nile crocodiles lay eggs; these are guarded by the females. Nile crocodile_sentence_24

The hatchlings are also protected for a period of time, but hunt by themselves and are not fed by the parents. Nile crocodile_sentence_25

The Nile crocodile is one of the most dangerous species of crocodile and is responsible for hundreds of human deaths every year. Nile crocodile_sentence_26

It is a rather common species of crocodile and is not endangered despite some regional declines or extinctions. Nile crocodile_sentence_27

Etymology Nile crocodile_section_0

The binomial name Crocodylus niloticus is derived from the Greek κρόκη, kroke ("pebble"), δρῖλος, drilos ("worm"), referring to its rough skin; and niloticus, meaning "from the Nile River". Nile crocodile_sentence_28

The Nile crocodile is called tanin ha-yeor in Hebrew, timsah al-nil in Arabic, mamba in Swahili, garwe in Shona, ngwenya in Ndebele, ngwena in Venda, and kwena in Sotho and Tswana. Nile crocodile_sentence_29

It also sometimes referred to as the African crocodile, Ethiopian crocodile, common crocodile, or the black crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_30

Taxonomy Nile crocodile_section_1

Although no subspecies are currently formally recognized, as many as seven have been proposed, mostly due to variations in appearance and size noted in various populations through Africa. Nile crocodile_sentence_31

These have consisted of: C. n. africanus (informally named the East African Nile crocodile), C. n. chamses (or the West African Nile crocodile), C. n. cowiei (the South African Nile crocodile), C. n. madagascariensis (Malagasy or Madagascar Nile crocodile, regionally also known as the Croco Mada, which translates to Malagasy crocodile), C. n. niloticus (would be the nominate subspecies, or the Ethiopian Nile crocodile), C. n. pauciscutatus (Kenyan Nile crocodile), C. Nile crocodile_sentence_32 (n.) suchus (now widely perceived by crocodilian biologists as a separate species). Nile crocodile_sentence_33

In a study of the morphology of the various populations, including C. (n.) suchus, the appearance of the Nile crocodile sensu lato was found to be more variable than any other currently recognized crocodile species, and at least some of these variations were related to locality. Nile crocodile_sentence_34

A study on Lake Turkana in Kenya (informally this population would be placed in C. n. pauciscutatus) has shown that the local crocodiles appear to have more osteoderms in their ventral surface than other known populations, thus are of lesser value in leather trading, accounting for an exceptionally large (possibly overpopulated) local population there in the late 20th century. Nile crocodile_sentence_35

The segregation of the West African crocodile (C. suchus) from the Nile crocodile has been supported by morphological characteristics, studies of genetic materials and habitat preferences. Nile crocodile_sentence_36

The separation of the two is not recognized by the IUCN as their last evaluations of the group was in 2008 and 2009, years before the primary publications supporting the distinction of the West African crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_37

DNA from West African crocodiles has indicated that, unlike the Nile crocodile, it is most closely related to East Asian species, such as the Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis), than other extant crocodilians. Nile crocodile_sentence_38

At one time, the fossil species Rimasuchus lloydi was thought to be the ancestor of the Nile crocodile, but more recent research has indicated that Rimasuchus, despite its very large size (about 20–30% bigger than a Nile crocodile with a skull length estimated up to 97 cm (38 in)), is more closely related to the dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) among living species. Nile crocodile_sentence_39

Other fossil species from Africa are retained in Crocodylus and appear to be closely related to the Nile crocodile: namely C. Nile crocodile_sentence_40 checchiai from the Miocene in Kenya, C. Nile crocodile_sentence_41 anthropophagus from Plio-Pleistocene Tanzania, and C. Nile crocodile_sentence_42 thorbjarnarsoni from Plio-Pleistocene Kenya. Nile crocodile_sentence_43

While C. checchiai was about the same size as the larger modern Nile crocodiles, and shared similar physical characteristics to the modern species; C. anthropophagus and C. thorbjarnarsoni were both somewhat larger, with projected total lengths up to 7.5–7.6 m (24 ft 7 in–24 ft 11 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_44

Also C. anthropophagus and C. thorbjarnarsoni, as well as Rimasuchus spp., were all relatively broad-snouted, as well as large, indicating a specialization at hunting sizeable prey, such as large mammals and freshwater turtles, the latter much larger than any in present-day Africa. Nile crocodile_sentence_45

Based on morphology, time, and placement of fossils, C. checchiai are thought to essentially form a link between the Nile crocodile and today's Neotropical crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_46

The Nile crocodile apparently is more closely related to the crocodiles of the Americas, namely the American (Crocodylus acutus), Cuban (Crocodylus rhombifer), Morelet's (Crocodylus moreletii), and Orinoco crocodiles (Crocodylus intermedius), than to the West African crocodile or other extant African crocodilians. Nile crocodile_sentence_47

Dispersal across the Atlantic is thought to have occurred 5 to 6 million years ago. Nile crocodile_sentence_48

Characteristics and physiology Nile crocodile_section_2

Adult Nile crocodiles have a dark bronze colouration above, with faded blackish spots and stripes variably appearing across the back and a dingy off-yellow on the belly, although mud can often obscure the crocodile's actual colour. Nile crocodile_sentence_49

The flanks, which are yellowish-green in colour, have dark patches arranged in oblique stripes in highly variable patterns. Nile crocodile_sentence_50

Some variation occurs relative to environment; specimens from swift-flowing waters tend to be lighter in colour than those dwelling in murkier lakes or swamps, which provides camouflage that suits their environment, an example of clinal variation. Nile crocodile_sentence_51

Nile crocodiles have green eyes. Nile crocodile_sentence_52

The colouration also helps to camouflage it; juveniles are grey, multicoloured, or brown, with dark cross-bands on the tail and body. Nile crocodile_sentence_53

The underbelly of young crocodiles is yellowish green. Nile crocodile_sentence_54

As it matures, Nile crocodiles become darker and the cross-bands fade, especially those on the upper-body. Nile crocodile_sentence_55

A similar tendency in coloration change during maturation has been noted in most crocodile species. Nile crocodile_sentence_56

Most morphological attributes of Nile crocodiles are typical of crocodilians as a whole. Nile crocodile_sentence_57

Like all crocodilians, for example, the Nile crocodile is a quadruped with four short, splayed legs, a long, powerful tail, a scaly hide with rows of ossified scutes running down its back and tail, and powerful, elongated jaws. Nile crocodile_sentence_58

Their skin has a number of poorly understood integumentary sense organs that may react to changes in water pressure, presumably allowing them to track prey movements in the water. Nile crocodile_sentence_59

The Nile crocodile has fewer osteoderms on the belly, which are much more conspicuous on some of the more modestly sized crocodilians. Nile crocodile_sentence_60

The species, however, also has small, oval osteoderms on the sides of the body, as well as the throat. Nile crocodile_sentence_61

The Nile crocodile shares with all crocodilians a nictitating membrane to protect the eyes and lachrymal glands to cleanse its eyes with tears. Nile crocodile_sentence_62

The nostrils, eyes, and ears are situated on the top of the head, so the rest of the body can remain concealed under water. Nile crocodile_sentence_63

They have a four-chambered heart, although modified for their ectothermic nature due to an elongated cardiac septum, physiologically similar to the heart of a bird, which is especially efficient at oxygenating their blood. Nile crocodile_sentence_64

As in all crocodilians, Nile crocodiles have exceptionally high levels of lactic acid in their blood, which allows them to sit motionless in water for up to 2 hours. Nile crocodile_sentence_65

Levels of lactic acid as high as they are in a crocodile would kill most vertebrates. Nile crocodile_sentence_66

However, exertion by crocodilians can lead to death due to increasing lactic acid to lethal levels, which in turn leads to failure of the animal's internal organs. Nile crocodile_sentence_67

This is rarely recorded in wild crocodiles, normally having been observed in cases where humans have mishandled crocodiles and put them through overly extended periods of physical struggling and stress. Nile crocodile_sentence_68

Skull and head morphology Nile crocodile_section_3

The mouths of Nile crocodiles are filled with 64 to 68 sharply pointed, cone-shaped teeth (about a dozen less than alligators have). Nile crocodile_sentence_69

For most of a crocodile's life, broken teeth can be replaced. Nile crocodile_sentence_70

On each side of the mouth, five teeth are in the front of the upper jaw (premaxilla), 13 or 14 are in the rest of the upper jaw (maxilla), and 14 or 15 are on either side of the lower jaw (mandible). Nile crocodile_sentence_71

The enlarged fourth lower tooth fits into the notch on the upper jaw and is visible when the jaws are closed, as is the case with all true crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_72

Hatchlings quickly lose a hardened piece of skin on the top of their mouths called the egg tooth, which they use to break through their eggshells at hatching. Nile crocodile_sentence_73

Among crocodilians, the Nile crocodile possesses a relatively long snout, which is about 1.6 to 2.0 times as long as broad at the level of the front corners of the eyes. Nile crocodile_sentence_74

As is the saltwater crocodile, the Nile crocodile is considered a species with medium-width snout relative to other extant crocodilian species. Nile crocodile_sentence_75

In a search for the largest crocodilian skulls in museums, the largest verifiable Nile crocodile skulls found were several housed in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, sourced from nearby Lake Chamo, which apparently included several specimens with a skull length more than 65 cm (26 in), with the largest one being 68.6 cm (27.0 in) in length with a mandibular length of 87 cm (34 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_76

Nile crocodiles with skulls this size are likely to measure in the range of 5.4 to 5.6 m (17 ft 9 in to 18 ft 4 in), which is also the length of the animals according to the museum where they were found. Nile crocodile_sentence_77

However, larger skulls may exist, as this study largely focused on crocodilians from Asia. Nile crocodile_sentence_78

The detached head of an exceptionally large Nile crocodile (killed in 1968 and measuring 5.87 m (19 ft 3 in) in length) was found to have weighed 166 kg (366 lb), including the large tendons used to shut the jaw. Nile crocodile_sentence_79

Biting force Nile crocodile_section_4

The bite force exerted by an adult Nile crocodile has been shown by Brady Barr to measure 22 kN (5,000 lbf). Nile crocodile_sentence_80

However, the muscles responsible for opening the mouth are exceptionally weak, allowing a person to easily hold them shut, and even larger crocodiles can be brought under control by the use of duct tape to bind the jaws together. Nile crocodile_sentence_81

The broadest snouted modern crocodilians are alligators and larger caimans. Nile crocodile_sentence_82

For example, a 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in) black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) was found to have a notably broader and heavier skull than that of a Nile crocodile measuring 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_83

However, despite their robust skulls, alligators and caimans appear to be proportionately equal in biting force to true crocodiles, as the muscular tendons used to shut the jaws are similar in proportional size. Nile crocodile_sentence_84

Only the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) (and perhaps some of the few very thin-snouted crocodilians) is likely to have noticeably diminished bite force compared to other living species due to its exceptionally narrow, fragile snout. Nile crocodile_sentence_85

More or less, the size of the tendons used to impart bite force increases with body size and the larger the crocodilian gets, the stronger its bite is likely to be. Nile crocodile_sentence_86

Therefore, a male saltwater crocodile, which had attained a length around 4.59 m (15 ft 1 in), was found to have the most powerful biting force ever tested in a lab setting for any type of animal. Nile crocodile_sentence_87

Size Nile crocodile_section_5

The Nile crocodile is the largest crocodilian in Africa, and is generally considered the second-largest crocodilian after the saltwater crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_88

Typical size has been reported to be as much as 4.5 to 5.5 m (14 ft 9 in to 18 ft 1 in), but this is excessive for actual average size per most studies and represents the upper limit of sizes attained by the largest animals in a majority of populations. Nile crocodile_sentence_89

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the typical mature size is between 3.4 and 3.7 m (11 ft 2 in and 12 ft 2 in), while Alexander and Marais (2007) state it is 2.8 to 3.5 m (9 ft 2 in to 11 ft 6 in) and Garrick and Lang (1977) claim from 3.0 to 4.5 m (9 ft 10 in to 14 ft 9 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_90

According to Cott (1961), the average length and weight of Nile crocodiles from Uganda and Zambia in breeding maturity was 3.16 m (10 ft 4 in) and 137.5 kg (303 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_91

Per Graham (1968), the average length and weight of a large sample of adult crocodiles from Lake Turkana (formerly known as Lake Rudolf), Kenya was 3.66 m (12 ft 0 in) and body mass of 201.6 kg (444 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_92

Similarly, adult crocodiles from Kruger National Park reportedly average 3.65 m (12 ft 0 in) in length. Nile crocodile_sentence_93

In comparison, the saltwater crocodile and gharial reportedly both average around 4 m (13 ft 1 in), so are about 30 cm (12 in) longer on average and the false gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) may average about 3.75 m (12 ft 4 in), so may be slightly longer, as well. Nile crocodile_sentence_94

However, compared to the narrow-snouted, streamlined gharial and false gharial, the Nile crocodile is rather more robust and ranks second to the saltwater crocodile in total average body mass among living crocodilians and third among all living reptiles - the massive leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has a mean body mass slightly less than that of an average mature male saltwater crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_95

The largest accurately measured male, shot near Mwanza, Tanzania, measured 6.45 m (21 ft 2 in) and weighed about 1,043–1,089 kg (2,300–2,400 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_96

Size and sexual dimorphism Nile crocodile_section_6

Like all crocodiles, they are sexually dimorphic, with the males up to 30% larger than the females, though the difference is considerably less compared to some species, like the saltwater crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_97

Male Nile crocodiles are about 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in) longer on average at sexual maturity and grow more so than females after becoming sexually mature, especially expanding in bulk after exceeding 4 m (13 ft 1 in) in length. Nile crocodile_sentence_98

Adult male Nile crocodiles usually range in length from 3.3 to 5.0 m (10 ft 10 in to 16 ft 5 in) long; at these lengths, an average sized male may weigh from 150 to 700 kg (330 to 1,540 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_99

In Limpopo, South Africa, males reportedly average 527 kg (1,162 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_100

Very old, mature ones can grow to 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in) or more in length (all specimens over 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in) from 1900 onward are cataloged later). Nile crocodile_sentence_101

Mature female Nile crocodiles typically measure 2.2 to 3.8 m (7 ft 3 in to 12 ft 6 in), at which lengths the average female specimen would weigh 40 to 250 kg (88 to 551 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_102

The bulk and mass of individual crocodiles can be fairly variable, some animals being relatively slender, while others being very robust; females are often bulkier than males of a similar length. Nile crocodile_sentence_103

As an example of the body mass increase undergone by mature crocodiles, one of the larger crocodiles handled firsthand by Cott (1961) was 4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) and weighed 414.5 kg (914 lb), while the largest specimen measured by Graham and Beard (1973) was 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in) and weighed more than 680 kg (1,500 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_104

In attempts to parse the mean male and female lengths across the species, the mean adult length was estimated to be reportedly 4 m (13 ft 1 in) in males, at which males would average about 280 kg (620 lb) in weight, while that of the female is 3.05 m (10 ft 0 in), at which females would average about 116 kg (256 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_105

This gives the Nile crocodile somewhat of a size advantage over the next largest non-marine predator on the African continent, the lion (Panthera leo), which averages 188 kg (414 lb) in males and 124 kg (273 lb) in females, and attains a maximum known weight of 313 kg (690 lb), far less than that of large male crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_106

Evidence exists of Nile crocodiles from cooler climates, like the southern tip of Africa, being smaller, and may reach maximum lengths of only 4 m (13 ft 1 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_107

A smaller population from Mali, the Sahara Desert, and elsewhere in West Africa reaches only 2 to 3 m (6 ft 7 in to 9 ft 10 in) in length, but it is now largely recognized as a separate species, the West African crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_108

Distribution and habitat Nile crocodile_section_7

The Nile crocodile is presently the most common crocodilian in Africa, and is distributed throughout much of the continent. Nile crocodile_sentence_109

Among crocodilians today, only the saltwater crocodile occurs over a broader geographic area, although other species, especially the spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) (due to its small size and extreme adaptability in habitat and flexibility in diet), seem to actually be more abundant. Nile crocodile_sentence_110

This species’ historic range, however, was even wider. Nile crocodile_sentence_111

They were found as far north as the Mediterranean coast in the Nile Delta and across the Red Sea in Palestine and Syria. Nile crocodile_sentence_112

The Nile crocodile has historically been recorded in areas where they are now regionally extinct. Nile crocodile_sentence_113

For example, Herodotus recorded the species inhabiting Lake Moeris in Egypt. Nile crocodile_sentence_114

They are thought to have become extinct in the Seychelles in the early 19th century (1810–1820). Nile crocodile_sentence_115

Today, Nile crocodiles are widely found in, among others, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Angola, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sudan, South Sudan, Botswana, and Cameroon. Nile crocodile_sentence_116

The Nile crocodile's current range of distribution extends from the regional tributaries of the Nile in Sudan and Lake Nasser in Egypt to the Cunene of Angola, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, and the Olifants River in South Africa. Nile crocodile_sentence_117

Isolated populations also exist in Madagascar, which likely colonized the island after the extinction of voay. Nile crocodile_sentence_118

In Madagascar, crocodiles occur in the western and southern parts from Sambirano to Tôlanaro. Nile crocodile_sentence_119

They have been spotted in Zanzibar and the Comoros in modern times, but occur very rarely. Nile crocodile_sentence_120

The species was previously thought to extend in range into the whole of West and Central Africa, but these populations are now typically recognized as a distinct species, the West African (or desert) crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_121

The distributional boundaries between these species were poorly understood, but following several studies, they are now better known. Nile crocodile_sentence_122

West African crocodiles are found throughout much of West and Central Africa, ranging east to South Sudan and Uganda where the species may come into contact with the Nile crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_123

Nile crocodiles are absent from most of West and Central Africa, but range into the latter region in eastern and southern Democratic Republic of Congo, and along the Central African coastal Atlantic region (as far north to Cameroon). Nile crocodile_sentence_124

Likely a level of habitat segregation occurs between the two species, but this remains to be confirmed. Nile crocodile_sentence_125

Nile crocodiles may be able to tolerate an extremely broad range of habitat types, including small brackish streams, fast-flowing rivers, swamps, dams, and tidal lakes and estuaries. Nile crocodile_sentence_126

In East Africa, they are found mostly in rivers, lakes, marshes, and dams, favoring open, broad bodies of water over smaller ones. Nile crocodile_sentence_127

In Madagascar, the remnant population of Nile crocodiles has adapted to living within caves. Nile crocodile_sentence_128

Although not a regular sea-going species as is the American crocodile, and especially the saltwater crocodile, the Nile crocodile possesses salt glands like all true crocodiles (but not alligators and caimans), and does on occasion enter coastal and even marine waters. Nile crocodile_sentence_129

They have been known to enter the sea in some areas, with one specimen having been recorded 11 km (6.8 mi) off St. Nile crocodile_sentence_130 Lucia Bay in 1917. Nile crocodile_sentence_131

Invasive species Nile crocodile_section_8

Nile crocodiles are an invasive species in North America, and several specimens have been recently captured in South Florida, though no signs that the population is reproducing in the wild have been found. Nile crocodile_sentence_132

Genetic studies of Nile crocodiles captured in the wild in Florida have revealed that the specimens are all closely related to each other, suggesting a single source of the introduction. Nile crocodile_sentence_133

This source remains unclear, as their genetics do not match samples collected from captives at various zoos and theme parks in Florida. Nile crocodile_sentence_134

When compared to Nile crocodiles from their native Africa, the Florida wild specimens are most closely related to South African Nile crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_135

It is unknown how many Nile crocodiles are currently at large in Florida. Nile crocodile_sentence_136

The animals likely were either brought there to be released, or are escapees. Nile crocodile_sentence_137

Behaviour Nile crocodile_section_9

Generally, Nile crocodiles are relatively inert creatures, as are most crocodilians and other large, cold-blooded creatures. Nile crocodile_sentence_138

More than half of the crocodiles observed by Cott (1961), if not disturbed, spent the hours from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm continuously basking with their jaws open if conditions were sunny. Nile crocodile_sentence_139

If their jaws are bound together in the extreme midday heat, Nile crocodiles may easily die from overheating. Nile crocodile_sentence_140

Although they can remain practically motionless for hours on end, whether basking or sitting in shallows, Nile crocodiles are said to be constantly aware of their surroundings and aware of the presence of other animals. Nile crocodile_sentence_141

However, mouth-gaping (while essential to thermoregulation) may also serve as a threat display to other crocodiles, for example when specimens have been observed mouth-gaping at night when overheating is not a risk. Nile crocodile_sentence_142

In Lake Turkana, crocodiles rarely bask at all through the day, unlike crocodiles from most other areas, for unknown reasons, usually sitting motionless partially exposed at the surface in shallows with no apparent ill effect from the lack of basking on land. Nile crocodile_sentence_143

In South Africa, Nile crocodiles are more easily observed in winter because of the extensive amount of time they spend basking at this time of year. Nile crocodile_sentence_144

More time is spent in water in overcast, rainy, or misty days. Nile crocodile_sentence_145

In the southern reaches of their range, as a response to dry, cool conditions that they cannot survive externally, crocodiles may dig and take refuge in tunnels and engage in aestivation. Nile crocodile_sentence_146

Pooley found in Royal Natal National Park that during aestivation, young crocodiles of 60 to 90 cm (24 to 35 in) total length would dig tunnels around 1.2 to 1.8 m (3 ft 11 in to 5 ft 11 in) in depth for most, some tunnels measuring more than 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in), the longest there being 3.65 m (12 ft 0 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_147

Crocodiles in aestivation are totally lethargic, entering a state similar to animals that hibernate. Nile crocodile_sentence_148

Only the largest individuals engaging in aestivation leave the burrow to sun on warmest days, otherwise these crocodiles rarely left their burrows. Nile crocodile_sentence_149

Aestivation has been recorded from May to August. Nile crocodile_sentence_150

Nile crocodiles usually dive for only a few minutes at a time, but can swim under water up to 30 minutes if threatened, and if they remain fully inactive, they can hold their breath for up to 2 hours (which, as aforementioned, is due to the high levels of lactic acid in their blood). Nile crocodile_sentence_151

They have a rich vocal range, and good hearing. Nile crocodile_sentence_152

Nile crocodiles normally crawl along on their bellies, but they can also "high walk" with their trunks raised above the ground. Nile crocodile_sentence_153

Smaller specimens can gallop, and even larger individuals are capable on occasion of surprising bursts of speed, briefly reaching up to 14 km/h (8.7 mph). Nile crocodile_sentence_154

They can swim much faster by moving their bodies and tails in a sinuous fashion, and they can sustain this form of movement much longer than on land, with a maximum known swimming speed 30 to 35 km/h (19 to 22 mph), more than three times faster than any human. Nile crocodile_sentence_155

Nile crocodiles have been widely known to have gastroliths in their stomachs, which are stones swallowed by animals for various purposes. Nile crocodile_sentence_156

Although this clearly is a deliberate behaviour for the species, the purpose is not definitively known. Nile crocodile_sentence_157

Gastroliths are not present in hatchlings, but increase quickly in presence within most crocodiles examined at 2–3.1 m (6 ft 7 in–10 ft 2 in) and yet normally become extremely rare again in very large specimens, meaning that some animals may eventually expel them. Nile crocodile_sentence_158

However, large specimens can have a large number of gastroliths. Nile crocodile_sentence_159

One crocodile measuring 3.84 m (12 ft 7 in) and weighing 239 kg (527 lb) had 5.1 kg (11 lb) of stones inside it, perhaps a record gastrolith weight for a crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_160

Specimens shot near Mpondwe on the Semliki River had gastroliths in their stomach despite being shot miles away from any sources for stones, the same applies to the Kafue Flats, Upper Zambesi and Bangweulu Swamp, all of which often had stones inside them despite being nowhere near stony regions. Nile crocodile_sentence_161

Cott (1961) felt that gastroliths were most likely serving as ballast to provide stability and additional weight to sink in water, this bearing great probability over the theories that they assist in digestion and staving off hunger. Nile crocodile_sentence_162

However, Alderton (1998) stated that a study using radiology found that gastroliths were seen to internally aid the grinding of food during digestion for a small Nile crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_163

Herodotus claimed that Nile crocodiles have a symbiotic relationship with certain birds, such as the Egyptian plover (Pluvianus aegyptius), which enter the crocodile's mouth and pick leeches feeding on the crocodile's blood, but no evidence of this interaction actually occurring in any crocodile species has been found, and it is most likely mythical or allegorical fiction. Nile crocodile_sentence_164

However, Guggisberg (1972) had seen examples of birds picking scraps of meat from the teeth of basking crocodiles (without entering the mouth) and prey from soil very near basking crocodiles, so felt it was not impossible that a bold, hungry bird may occasionally nearly enter a crocodile's mouth, but not likely as a habitual behaviour. Nile crocodile_sentence_165

Hunting and diet Nile crocodile_section_10

Nile crocodiles are apex predators throughout their range. Nile crocodile_sentence_166

In the water, this species is an agile and rapid hunter relying on both movement and pressure sensors to catch any prey unfortunate enough to present itself inside or near the waterfront. Nile crocodile_sentence_167

Out of water, however, the Nile crocodile can only rely on its limbs, as it gallops on solid ground, to chase prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_168

No matter where they attack prey, this and other crocodilians take practically all of their food by ambush, needing to grab their prey in a matter of seconds to succeed. Nile crocodile_sentence_169

They have an ectothermic metabolism, so can survive for long periods between meals—though when they do eat, they can eat up to half their body weight at a time. Nile crocodile_sentence_170

However, for such large animals, their stomachs are relatively small, not much larger than a basketball in an average-sized adult, so as a rule, they are anything but voracious eaters. Nile crocodile_sentence_171

Young crocodiles feed more actively than their elders according to studies in Uganda and Zambia. Nile crocodile_sentence_172

In general, at the smallest sizes (0.3–1 m (1 ft 0 in–3 ft 3 in)), Nile crocodiles were most likely to have full stomachs (17.4% full per Cott); adults at 3–4 m (9 ft 10 in–13 ft 1 in) in length were most likely to have empty stomachs (20.2%). Nile crocodile_sentence_173

In the largest size range studied by Cott, 4–5 m (13 ft 1 in–16 ft 5 in), they were the second most likely to either have full stomachs (10%) or empty stomachs (20%). Nile crocodile_sentence_174

Other studies have also shown a large number of adult Nile crocodiles with empty stomachs. Nile crocodile_sentence_175

For example, in Lake Turkana, Kenya, 48.4% of crocodiles had empty stomachs. Nile crocodile_sentence_176

The stomachs of brooding females are always empty, meaning that they can survive several months without food. Nile crocodile_sentence_177

The Nile crocodile mostly hunts within the confines of waterways, either attacking aquatic prey or terrestrial animals when they come to the water to drink or to cross. Nile crocodile_sentence_178

The crocodile mainly hunts land animals by almost fully submerging its body under water. Nile crocodile_sentence_179

Occasionally, a crocodile quietly surfaces so that only its eyes (to check positioning) and nostrils are visible, and swims quietly and stealthily toward its mark. Nile crocodile_sentence_180

The attack is sudden and unpredictable. Nile crocodile_sentence_181

The crocodile lunges its body out of water in practically the blink of an eye and grasps its prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_182

On other occasions, more of its head and upper body is visible, especially when the terrestrial prey animal is on higher ground, to get a sense of the direction of the prey item as the top of an embankment or on a tree branch. Nile crocodile_sentence_183

Crocodile teeth are not used for tearing up flesh, but to sink deep into it and hold on to the prey item. Nile crocodile_sentence_184

The immense bite force, which may be as high as 5,000 lbf (22,000 N) in large adults, ensures that the prey item cannot escape through the grip. Nile crocodile_sentence_185

Much prey taken is much smaller than the crocodile itself and such prey can be overpowered and swallowed with ease. Nile crocodile_sentence_186

When it comes to larger prey, success depends on the crocodile's body power and weight to pull the prey item back into the water, where it is either drowned or killed by sudden thrashes of the head or by tearing it into pieces with the help of other crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_187

Subadult and smaller adult Nile crocodiles use their bodies and tails to herd groups of fish toward a bank, and eat them with quick sideways jerks of their heads. Nile crocodile_sentence_188

Some crocodiles of the species may habitually use their tails to sweep terrestrial prey off balance, sometimes forcing the prey specimen into the water, where it can be more easily drowned. Nile crocodile_sentence_189

They also cooperate, blocking migrating fish by forming a semicircle across the river. Nile crocodile_sentence_190

The most dominant crocodile eats first. Nile crocodile_sentence_191

Their ability to lie concealed with most of their bodies under water, combined with their speed over short distances, makes them effective opportunistic hunters of larger prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_192

They grab such prey in their powerful jaws, drag it into the water, and hold it underneath until it drowns. Nile crocodile_sentence_193

They also scavenge or steal kills from other predators, such as lions and leopards (Panthera pardus). Nile crocodile_sentence_194

Groups of Nile crocodiles may travel hundreds of meters from a waterway to feast on a carcass. Nile crocodile_sentence_195

They also feed on dead hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibius) as a group (sometimes including three or four dozen crocodiles), tolerating each other. Nile crocodile_sentence_196

In fact, probably much of the food from crocodile stomachs may come from scavenging carrion, and the crocodiles could be viewed as performing a similar function at times as do vultures or hyenas on land. Nile crocodile_sentence_197

Once their prey is dead, they rip off and swallow chunks of flesh. Nile crocodile_sentence_198

When groups are sharing a kill, they use each other for leverage, biting down hard and then twisting their bodies to tear off large pieces of meat in a "death roll". Nile crocodile_sentence_199

They may also get the necessary leverage by lodging their prey under branches or stones, before rolling and ripping. Nile crocodile_sentence_200

The Nile crocodile possesses unique predation behavior characterized by the ability of preying both within its natural habitat and out of it, which often results in unpredicted attacks on almost any other animal up to twice its size. Nile crocodile_sentence_201

Most hunting on land is done at night by lying in ambush near forest trails or roadsides, up to 50 m (170 ft) from the water's edge. Nile crocodile_sentence_202

Since their speed and agility on land is rather outmatched by most terrestrial animals, they must use obscuring vegetation or terrain to have a chance of succeeding during land-based hunts. Nile crocodile_sentence_203

In one case, an adult crocodile charged from the water up a bank to kill a bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and instead of dragging it into the water, was observed to pull the kill further on land into the cover of the bush. Nile crocodile_sentence_204

Two subadult crocodiles were once seen carrying the carcass of a nyala (Tragelaphus angasii) across land in unison. Nile crocodile_sentence_205

In South Africa, a game warden far from water sources in a savannah-scrub area reported that he saw a crocodile jump up and grab a donkey by the neck and then drag the prey off. Nile crocodile_sentence_206

Invertebrates Nile crocodile_section_11

The type and size of the prey depends mostly on the size of the crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_207

The diet of young crocodiles is made up largely of insects and other invertebrates, since this is the only prey the same animals can easily take. Nile crocodile_sentence_208

More than 100 species and genera of insects were identified among the food of crocodiles of this age. Nile crocodile_sentence_209

Of the insects taken there, beetles made up 58% of the diet, including Hydrophilus and Cybister. Nile crocodile_sentence_210

giant water bugs but also crickets and dragonflies. Nile crocodile_sentence_211

Arachnids such as Dolomedes water spiders are taken, but always secondarily to insects in Uganda and Zambia. Nile crocodile_sentence_212

Crabs are also largely taken by crocodiles under 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in), especially the genus Potamonautes, with different species being the primary crustacean food in different areas. Nile crocodile_sentence_213

Mollusks may occasionally be taken by young crocodiles (they are taken in larger numbers later in life in parts of Uganda and Zambia). Nile crocodile_sentence_214

In the Okavango Delta, Botswana, the diet was similar but young crocodiles ate a broader range of insects and invertebrates, with beetles taken in similar numbers to other, similar prey, both aquatic and terrestrial. Nile crocodile_sentence_215

In Botswana, arachnids were more often found in young crocodiles than in Uganda and Zambia. Nile crocodile_sentence_216

In Zimbabwe, the dietary composition was broadly similar to that in other areas. Nile crocodile_sentence_217

However, in the Ugandan portion of Lake Victoria, true bugs and dragonflies both seem to outnumber beetles notably and up to a length of 1 to 2 m (3 ft 3 in to 6 ft 7 in) crocodiles had stomach contents that were made up 70–75% of insects. Nile crocodile_sentence_218

After Nile crocodiles reach 2 m (6 ft 7 in), the significance of most invertebrates in the diet decreases precipitously. Nile crocodile_sentence_219

An exception to this is in Uganda and Zambia, where subadults and adults of even large sizes, up to 3.84 m (12 ft 7 in), may eat very large numbers of snails. Nile crocodile_sentence_220

Nearly 70% of the crocodiles examined by Cott (1961) had some remains of snails inside their stomachs. Nile crocodile_sentence_221

Predation on amuplariid water snails was especially heavy in Bangweulu Swamp, Lake Mweru Wantipa, and the Kafue Flats, where mollusks representing 89.1, 87, and 84.7% of all prey in these locations, respectively. Nile crocodile_sentence_222

Gastropoda (4126 records per Cott) were taken much more than Lamellibranchiata (six records). Nile crocodile_sentence_223

Notable favorites include Pila ovata, which lives just under water on rocky surfaces (mainly found in crocodiles from Uganda) and Lanistes ovum, which is found submerged among water plants and on detritus (mainly from stomachs in Zambia). Nile crocodile_sentence_224

Fish Nile crocodile_section_12

During the time from when they are roughly 1.5 to 2.2 m (4 ft 11 in to 7 ft 3 in) long (roughly 5 to 9 years old), Nile crocodiles seem to have the broadest diet of any age range. Nile crocodile_sentence_225

They take more or less much the same small prey as smaller crocodiles, including insects and arachnids, but also take many small to medium-sized vertebrates and quickly become capable taking down prey up to their own weight. Nile crocodile_sentence_226

Fish become especially significant around this age and size. Nile crocodile_sentence_227

However, Cott (1961) found that the only size range where fish were numerically dominant over other types of food was from 2 to 3.05 m (6 ft 7 in to 10 ft 0 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_228

This size range consists of subadult males and a mixture of subadult and adult females. Nile crocodile_sentence_229

In Lake Turkana, fish were the only food in the stomachs of 45.4% of the crocodiles that did not have empty stomachs, in total 87.8% of the crocodiles that did not have empty stomachs there had fish in their stomachs. Nile crocodile_sentence_230

Graham (1968) noted that throughout East Africa, crocodile diets are driven by the regional availability of prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_231

The arid land surrounding Lake Turkana is a relatively barren region for diverse or numerous prey other than fish, so fish are an exceptionally important food source to crocodiles there. Nile crocodile_sentence_232

In Lake Kyoga and Lake Kwana, 73.1% of the crocodiles that did not have empty stomachs had fish in their stomachs. Nile crocodile_sentence_233

At Lake St. Lucia in South Africa, many Nile crocodile congregate to feed on striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) as they make their seaward migration for spawning. Nile crocodile_sentence_234

Here, the crocodiles may line up in dozens across narrow straits of the estuary to effectively force the mullet into easy striking distance, with no observed in-fighting among these crocodile feeding congregations. Nile crocodile_sentence_235

At this time of plenty (before irrigation operations by humans led St. Lucia to have dangerously high saline levels), a 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) crocodile could expect to eat 1.1 kg (2.4 lb) of mullet daily, an exceptionally large daily amount for a crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_236

Larger fish, like catfish and freshwater bass, are preferred by adults more than 2.2 m (7 ft 3 in) in length. Nile crocodile_sentence_237

Particularly small fish are likely to be eaten only in case of sudden encounter, mostly in shallow, dry-season ponds where not much effort is needed to catch the small, agile prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_238

Most observed fishing by crocodiles takes place in waters less than 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) deep and fish are often caught when they swim into contact with the crocodile's head, even literally right into the reptile's mouth. Nile crocodile_sentence_239

Across much of their range, they take any fish they encounter, but largish and relatively sluggish mesopredator fish such as lungfish and Barbus carp seem to be most widely reported. Nile crocodile_sentence_240

Many other genera are taken widely and relatively regularly, including Tilapia (which was the most significant prey genus in Lake Turkana), Clarias, Haplochromis, and Mormyrus. Nile crocodile_sentence_241

In Uganda and Zambia, lungfish comprised nearly two-thirds of the piscivorian diet for crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_242

Similarly, in Lake Baringo, the lungfish is the crocodile's main prey and the crocodile is the lungfish's primary predator. Nile crocodile_sentence_243

In the Okavango Delta, the African pikes (Hepsetus spp.) were the leading prey group for subadults, comprising more than a fourth of the diet. Nile crocodile_sentence_244

Extremely large fish, such as Nile perch (Lates niloticus), goliath tigerfish (Hydrocynus goliath), and even sharks, are taken on occasion, in addition to big catfish, such as Bagrus spp. and Clarias gariepinus, which are preyed upon quite regularly in areas where they are common. Nile crocodile_sentence_245

In the Zambezi River and Lake St. Lucia, Nile crocodiles have been known to prey on bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) and sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus). Nile crocodile_sentence_246

The largest fishes attacked in such cases may potentially weigh more than 45 kg (99 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_247

When capturing large fish, they often drag the fish onto shore and swing their heads around to smash the fish onto the ground until it is dead or incapacitated. Nile crocodile_sentence_248

More modestly sized fish are generally swallowed whole. Nile crocodile_sentence_249

The Nile crocodile has a reputation as a voracious and destructive feeder on freshwater fish, many of which are essential to the livelihoods of local fisherman and the industry of sport fishing. Nile crocodile_sentence_250

However, this is very much an unearned reputation. Nile crocodile_sentence_251

As cold-blooded creatures, Nile crocodiles need to eat far less compared to an equivalent-weighted warm-blooded animal. Nile crocodile_sentence_252

The crocodile of 2 to 3.05 m (6 ft 7 in to 10 ft 0 in) consumes an average 286 g (10.1 oz) of fish per day. Nile crocodile_sentence_253

In comparison, piscivorous water birds from Africa eat far more per day despite being a fraction of the body size of a crocodile, for example a cormorant eats up to 1.4 kg (3.1 lb) per day (about 70% of its own body weight), while a pelican consumes up to 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) per day (about 35% of its own weight). Nile crocodile_sentence_254

The taking of commercially important fish, such as Tilapia, has been mentioned as a source of conflict between humans and crocodiles, and used as justification for crocodile-culling operations; however, even a primarily piscivorous crocodile needs relatively so little fish that it cannot deplete fish populations on its own without other (often anthropogenic) influences. Nile crocodile_sentence_255

Additionally, crocodiles readily take dead or dying fish given the opportunity, thus are likely to incidentally improve the health of some fish species’ populations as this lessens their exposure to diseases and infection. Nile crocodile_sentence_256

Reptiles and amphibians Nile crocodile_section_13

Frogs are regionally significant prey for small, young crocodiles in many regions, mainly those in the 0.5 to 1.5 m (1 ft 8 in to 4 ft 11 in) size range. Nile crocodile_sentence_257

The main amphibian prey species from Uganda and Zambia was the African common toad (Amietophrynus regularis) while in Botswana, the main amphibian prey was the reed frog (Hyperolius viridiflavus). Nile crocodile_sentence_258

Even the largest frog in the world, the goliath frog (Conraua goliath), has reportedly been preyed on by young Nile crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_259

In general, reptiles become relatively common only in the diet in larger juvenile specimens and subadults. Nile crocodile_sentence_260

Large reptiles, or armoured reptiles such as turtles, were almost negligible in crocodiles under 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) and most common in the stomachs of crocodiles over 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in) in length from Uganda and Zambia. Nile crocodile_sentence_261

Small species of reptiles are largely ignored as prey at this size. Nile crocodile_sentence_262

Freshwater turtles are often the most frequently recorded reptilian prey, unsurprisingly perhaps because most other reptiles other than a small handful of Lycodonomorphus water snakes are more terrestrial than water-based. Nile crocodile_sentence_263

In a study, the serrated hinged terrapin (Pelusios sinuatus) (also sometimes referred to as the "water tortoise") was more commonly reported in the stomach contents of adult crocodiles from Kruger National Park than any single mammal species. Nile crocodile_sentence_264

Other turtle species commonly recorded among Nile crocodile prey include the Speke's hinge-back tortoise (Kinixys spekii) and East African black mud turtle (Pelusios subniger). Nile crocodile_sentence_265

Beyond their ready availability and respectable size, turtles are favored by big crocodiles due to their slowness, which allows the cumbersome crocodiles to capture them more easily than swifter vertebrates. Nile crocodile_sentence_266

While adults have a sufficient bite force to crush turtle shells, younger crocodiles sometimes are overly ambitious, and will choke to death attempting to swallow whole large river turtles. Nile crocodile_sentence_267

A variety of snakes has been preyed on from relatively small, innocuous species such as the common egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis scabra) to the largest African snakes species, the African rock python (Python sebae), which can exceed 6.1 m (20 ft 0 in) in length and weigh over 91 kg (201 lb). Nile crocodile_sentence_268

Venomous species, including the puff adder (Bitis arietans), the forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca), and the black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) have been recorded as Nile crocodile prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_269

The only frequently recorded lizard prey is the large Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus), although this mesopredator may be eaten fairly regularly, as they often share similar habitat preferences, whenever a crocodile is able to ambush the stealthy monitor, which is more agile on land than the bulkier crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_270

Birds Nile crocodile_section_14

Numerous birds, including storks, small wading birds, waterfowl, eagles, and even small, swift-flying birds, may be snatched. Nile crocodile_sentence_271

As a whole, birds are quite secondary prey, rarely comprising more than 10–15% of crocodiles' diets, although are taken fairly evenly across all crocodile size ranges, excluding juveniles less than 1 m (3 ft 3 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_272

Birds most often taken are African darters (Anhinga rufa) and reed (Microcarbo africanus) and white-breasted cormorants (Phalacrocorax lucidus), followed by various waterfowl, including most breeding geese and ducks in Africa. Nile crocodile_sentence_273

Slow-swimming pelicans are also frequently vulnerable to crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_274

Nile crocodiles apparently frequently station themselves underneath breeding colonies of darters and cormorants and presumably snatch up fledgling birds as they drop to the water before they can competently escape the saurian, as has been recorded with several other crocodilians. Nile crocodile_sentence_275

Wading birds, even large and relatively slow-moving types such as the goliath heron (Ardea goliath), tend to be highly cautious in avoiding deep water in crocodile-occupied wetlands, whereas cormorants and waterfowl forage over deeper water and are easier for crocodiles to ambush, with Egyptian geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca) and spur-winged geese (Plectropterus gambensis) recorded as being taken largely while flightless due to molting their flight feathers. Nile crocodile_sentence_276

On the contrary, several records exist of them capturing wading birds. Nile crocodile_sentence_277

Guggisberg (1972) saw multiple cases of predation on marabou storks (Leptoptilos crumenifer) and around Lake Turkana several may frequent heronries to pick off fledglings. Nile crocodile_sentence_278

In one case, a crocodile was filmed capturing a striated heron (Butorides striata) in mid-flight. Nile crocodile_sentence_279

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are known to be grabbed while they dive for fish as are possibly African fish eagles (Haliaeetus vocifer), while crowned eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) have reportedly been ambushed on land at carrion. Nile crocodile_sentence_280

Crocodiles are occasionally successful in grabbing passerines such as weaver birds, including the abundant red-billed quelea (Quelea quelea), and swallows, having been observed to breach the water and in a matter of seconds sweep off a branch full of birds with remarkable success. Nile crocodile_sentence_281

Larger land birds, such as bustards, guineafowl, ground hornbills (Bucorvus spp.) and ostriches (Struthio camelus), may be taken when they come to water to drink, but like most birds, are seldom harassed and a minor part of the diet. Nile crocodile_sentence_282

Mammals Nile crocodile_section_15

Considering the fact that crocodiles defecate in water, making scat analysis impossible, and that the examination of stomach contents is fairly difficult for which capturing of the animals individually is required for analysis, determining anything about the percentage of any specific food item in a crocodile's diet can be difficult. Nile crocodile_sentence_283

In addition, as an animal that feeds rarely, sometimes only a few times in a year, even the individual stomach content examinations sometimes prove to be unsuccessful. Nile crocodile_sentence_284

However, as crocodiles grow, relying solely on small and agile food items such as fish becomes difficult, this causes a shift in the diet as the animal matures, for energy conservation purposes, as in other predators. Nile crocodile_sentence_285

Nonetheless, starting around 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in), they can become capable mammalian hunters and their ability to overpower a wide range of mammals increases along with their size. Nile crocodile_sentence_286

Crocodiles less than 3 m (9 ft 10 in) may take a variety of medium–sized mammals up to equal their own mass, including various monkeys, duikers, rodents, hares, pangolins, bats, dik-dik, suni (Neotragus moschatus), oribi (Ourebia ourebi) and other small ungulates up to the size of a Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii). Nile crocodile_sentence_287

Rodents and shrews may enter the diet of juvenile crocodiles, i.e. 1.0 to 1.5 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 11 in), and become commonplace in subadult and small adult crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_288

Species recorded include the Natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis), African marsh rat (Dasymys incomtus), common rufous-nosed rat (Oenomys hypoxanthus), and savanna swamp shrew (Crocidura longipes). Nile crocodile_sentence_289

In many areas, the cane rats are a particular favorite mammalian food for crocodiles, particularly the relatively large greater cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus). Nile crocodile_sentence_290

In Uganda and Zambia, the latter species are the leading overall mammalian prey type for crocodiles and one Kenyan crocodile of 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in) in length had 40 greater cane rats in its stomach. Nile crocodile_sentence_291

Cape porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) are known to have been preyed on several times in Kruger National Park, their quills apparently being an insufficient defense against the tough jaws and digestive systems of crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_292

Small carnivores are readily taken opportunistically, including both African clawless otters (Aonyx capensis) and spotted-necked otters (Hydrictis maculicollis), as well as water mongoose (Atilax paludinosus), African wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) and servals (Leptailurus serval). Nile crocodile_sentence_293

Adult Nile crocodiles, i.e. at least 3.05 m (10 ft 0 in), are apex predators. Nile crocodile_sentence_294

While adults can and will consume nearly all types of prey consumed by the younger specimens, as adult crocodiles gain bulk, they lose much of the necessary maneuverability to capture agile prey such as fish and are not likely to meet their dietary needs by consuming small prey and may expel unnecessary amounts of energy, so take them secondarily to larger prey. Nile crocodile_sentence_295

Primates of various sizes may be taken by subadult or adult crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_296

In some areas, some number of baboons is taken, such as in Okavango Delta, where chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) are eaten and Uganda, where olive baboons (Papio anubis) are taken. Nile crocodile_sentence_297

No records of them hunting apes (other than humans) have been made, but based on a strong reluctance to cross waters with crocodiles and a violent reaction to the visual stimuli of crocodiles, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and gorillas (Gorilla beringei) are thought to consider Nile crocodiles a serious threat. Nile crocodile_sentence_298

Few details are known about the dietary habits of Nile crocodiles living in Madagascar, although they are considered potential predators of several lemur species. Nile crocodile_sentence_299

Other nonungulate prey known to be attacked by Nile crocodiles includes aardvarks (Orycteropus afer) and African manatees (Trichechus senegalensis). Nile crocodile_sentence_300

Among the mammals, the bulk of the prey for adults is antelopes. Nile crocodile_sentence_301

In particular, the genus Kobus is often among the most vulnerable because it forages primarily in wetland areas and seeks to evade more prolific mammalian predators (such as hyenas, lions, etc.) by traveling along waterways. Nile crocodile_sentence_302

In some cases in Kruger National Park, antelope have been driven into water while being pursued by packs of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), which hunt by endurance, engaging prey in a grueling chase until it is exhausted (a very successful hunting style), only to be killed by opportunistic crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_303

While not as extensively aquatic as the genus Kobus, the reedbucks and the impala (Aepyceros melampus) have both shown a partiality for grasslands adjoining wetlands and riparian zones, so are also very commonly recorded prey items. Nile crocodile_sentence_304

In Kruger National Park, over the course of 22 years of discontinuous observation, 60% of the large-game kills observed as perpetrated by crocodiles consisted of impala, while more than 15% of observed kills were made up of waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), the largest of the genus Kobus at more than 200 kg (440 lb) in weight. Nile crocodile_sentence_305

Elsewhere, the waterbuck appears to be the most significant mammalian prey for large adult crocodiles, such as in Uganda and Zambia (although due to more sporadic general ungulate populations in those countries, ungulates are less common as prey than in some other countries), as well as in Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, South Africa. Nile crocodile_sentence_306

Other antelopes recorded as prey including gazelles, bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii), kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), steenbok (Raphicerus campestris), eland (Taurotragus oryx), gemsbok (Oryx gazella), sable (Hippotragus niger) and roan antelopes (Hippotragus equinus), up to a half dozen types of duiker, topi (Damaliscus lunatus), hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) and both species of wildebeest (Connochaetes sp.). Nile crocodile_sentence_307

Other ungulates are taken by Nile crocodile more or less opportunistically. Nile crocodile_sentence_308

These may include Grévy's (Equus grevyi) and plains zebras (Equus quagga), pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis), warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus), bushpigs (Potamochoerus larvatus) and red river hogs (Potamochoerus porcus). Nile crocodile_sentence_309

In Maasai Mara, Tanzania, large crocodiles congregate at river crossings utilized by migrating herds of Burchell's zebras and blue wildebeests (Connochaetes taurinus), picking off hundreds of these large ungulates annually. Nile crocodile_sentence_310

All domesticated ungulates and pet animals will on occasion be hunted by Nile crocodiles, up to the size of dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) and cattle (Bos taurus) In Tanzania, up to 54 head of cattle may be lost to crocodiles annually, increasing the human-crocodile conflict level. Nile crocodile_sentence_311

Goats (Capra aegagrus hircus), donkeys (Equus africanus asinus) and dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) may also rank among the most regularly recorded domesticated animals to be taken by Nile crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_312

Particularly large adults, on occasion, take on even larger prey, such as giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), and young African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana). Nile crocodile_sentence_313

Even heavier prey, such as black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), have been killed by crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_314

In one case in the Tana River of Kenya, as observed by Max Fleishmann (communicated via letter to Theodore Roosevelt), a crocodile was able to bring down one of these huge herbivores by the help of muddy bank terrain, the adult female rhino's poor decision to enter deeper water rather than retreat to land and finally having been joined in drowning the animal by one to two other crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_315

An additional case of predation on an adult black rhino was reportedly observed in northern Zambia. Nile crocodile_sentence_316

A bull giraffe that lost his footing on a river bank in Kruger National Park was seen to be killed by a large crocodile, while in another case there, a healthy bull buffalo was seen to be overpowered and killed by an average-sized adult male crocodile measuring 4.25 m (13 ft 11 in) after a massive struggle, an incident less commonly seen at this size. Nile crocodile_sentence_317

Since crocodiles are solitary hunters, the Nile crocodile is the only predator in Africa known to attack full-grown buffaloes alone, compared to the preferred pride attack method of lions. Nile crocodile_sentence_318

Although crocodiles occasionally prey on hippopotamus calves, even large adult crocodiles rarely attack them because of the aggressive defense by mother hippos and the close protection of the herd, which pose a serious threat. Nile crocodile_sentence_319

Hippopotamus calves have been observed to at times act brazenly around crocodiles, foraging without apparent concern and even bumping into the reptiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_320

However, some large crocodiles have been recorded as predators of subadult hippos; anecdotally, the infamous giant crocodile Gustave was reported to have been seen killing adult female hippos. Nile crocodile_sentence_321

A 5 m (16 ft 5 in) specimen from Zambia was found to have eaten a "half-grown hippo". Nile crocodile_sentence_322

At the no-longer-existent Ripon Falls in Uganda, one adult male hippopotamus was seen to be badly injured in a mating battle with a rival bull hippo, and was then subsequently attacked by several crocodiles, causing it to retreat to a reedbed. Nile crocodile_sentence_323

When the male hippo returned to the water, it was drowned and killed by the group of crocodiles amid "a truly terrifying commotion". Nile crocodile_sentence_324

However, other than rare instances, adults of megafauna species such as hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, and elephants are not regular prey and are not typically attacked, with the exception of giraffes, since their anatomy makes them vulnerable to attack while taking a drink. Nile crocodile_sentence_325

Nile crocodiles on occasion prey on big cats including lions and leopards. Nile crocodile_sentence_326

However, in order to save energy, crocodiles do not prefer such agile animals, as most attacks will end before they can strike. Nile crocodile_sentence_327

Thus they usually attack agile prey in the absence of regular prey items. Nile crocodile_sentence_328

Other large carnivores that dwell in Africa near the top of the food chain can also on occasion fall prey to crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_329

Such predators that can find themselves victim to crocodiles include hyenas (3 out of 4 species reported as prey for Nile crocodiles, only the desert-dwelling brown (Hyaena brunnea) being excluded), African wild dogs, jackals, and cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Nile crocodile_sentence_330

Vegetation Nile crocodile_section_16

In the Nile crocodile as well as in at least 13 other species of crocodilian, a variety of fruit (mostly fleshy) has been found in stomach content. Nile crocodile_sentence_331

While these are probably sometimes used as gastroliths, they are likely often ingested for their nutritional value. Nile crocodile_sentence_332

Based on these findings, it has also been suggested that crocodiles may act as seed dispersers. Nile crocodile_sentence_333

Interspecific predatory relationships Nile crocodile_section_17

Living in the rich biosphere of Africa south of the Sahara, the Nile crocodile may come into contact with multiple other large predators. Nile crocodile_sentence_334

Its place in the ecosystems it inhabits is largely unique, as it is the only large tetrapod carnivore that spends the majority of its life in water and hunting prey associated with aquatic zones. Nile crocodile_sentence_335

Large mammalian predators in Africa are often social animals and obligated to feed almost exclusively on terrestrial zones. Nile crocodile_sentence_336

The Nile crocodile is a strong example of an apex predator. Nile crocodile_sentence_337

Outside water, crocodiles can meet competition from other dominant savannah predators, notably big cats, which in Africa are represented by lions, cheetahs, and leopards. Nile crocodile_sentence_338

In general, big cats and crocodiles have a relationship of mutual avoidance. Nile crocodile_sentence_339

Occasionally, if regular food becomes scarce, both lions and the crocodile will steal kills on land from each other and, depending on size, will be dominant over one another. Nile crocodile_sentence_340

Both species may be attracted to carrion, and may occasionally fight over both kills or carrion. Nile crocodile_sentence_341

Most conflicts over food occur near the water and can literally lead to a tug-of-war over a carcass that can end either way, although seldom is there any serious fighting or bloodshed between the large carnivores. Nile crocodile_sentence_342

Intimidation displays may also resolve these conflicts. Nile crocodile_sentence_343

However, when size differences are prominent, the predators may prey on each other. Nile crocodile_sentence_344

2 cases of Leopards preying on Crocodiles were reported. Nile crocodile_sentence_345

Reproduction Nile crocodile_section_18

On average, sexual maturity is obtained from 12 to 16 years of age. Nile crocodile_sentence_346

For males, the onset of sexual maturity occurs when they are about 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in) long and mass of 155 kg (342 lb), being fairly consistent. Nile crocodile_sentence_347

On the other hand, that for females is rather more variable, and may be indicative of the health of a regional population based on size at sexual maturity. Nile crocodile_sentence_348

On average, according to Cott (1961), female sexual maturity occurs when they reach 2.2 to 3 m (7 ft 3 in to 9 ft 10 in) in length. Nile crocodile_sentence_349

Similarly, a wide range of studies from southern Africa found that the average length for females at the onset of sexual maturity was 2.33 m (7 ft 8 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_350

However, stunted sexual maturity appears to occur in populations at opposite extremes, both where crocodiles are thought to be overpopulated and where they are overly reduced to heavy hunting, sometimes with females laying eggs when they measure as small as 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) although it is questionable whether such clutches would bear healthy hatchlings. Nile crocodile_sentence_351

According to Bourquin (2008), the average breeding female in southern Africa is between 3 and 3.6 m (9 ft 10 in and 11 ft 10 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_352

Earlier studies support that breeding is often inconsistent in females less than 3 m (9 ft 10 in) and clutch size is smaller, a female at 2.75 m (9 ft 0 in) reportedly never lays more than 35 eggs, while a female measuring 3.64 m (11 ft 11 in) can expect a clutch of up to 95 eggs. Nile crocodile_sentence_353

In "stunted" newly mature females from Lake Turkana measuring 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in), the average clutch size was only 15. Nile crocodile_sentence_354

Graham and Beard (1968) hypothesized that, while females do continue to grow as do males throughout life, that past a certain age and size that females much over 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in) in length in Lake Turkana no longer breed (supported by the physiology of the females examined here); however, subsequent studies in Botswana and South Africa have found evidence of nesting females at least 4.1 m (13 ft 5 in) in length. Nile crocodile_sentence_355

In the Olifants River in South Africa, rainfall influenced the size of nesting females as only larger females (greater than 3 m (9 ft 10 in)) nested during the driest years. Nile crocodile_sentence_356

Breeding females along the Olifants were overall larger than those in Zimbabwe. Nile crocodile_sentence_357

Most females nest only every two to three years while mature males may breed every year. Nile crocodile_sentence_358

During the mating season, males attract females by bellowing, slapping their snouts in the water, blowing water out of their noses, and making a variety of other noises. Nile crocodile_sentence_359

Among the larger males of a population, territorial clashes can lead to physical fighting between males especially if they are near the same size. Nile crocodile_sentence_360

Such clashes can be brutal affairs and can end in mortality but typically end with victor and loser still alive, the latter withdrawing into deep waters. Nile crocodile_sentence_361

Once a female has been attracted, the pair warble and rub the undersides of their jaws together. Nile crocodile_sentence_362

Compared to the tender behaviour of the female accepting the male, copulation is rather rough (even described as "rape"-like by Graham & Beard (1968)) in which the male often roars and pins the female underwater. Nile crocodile_sentence_363

Cott noted little detectable discrepancy in the mating habits of Nile crocodiles and American alligators. Nile crocodile_sentence_364

In some regions, males have reportedly mated with several females, perhaps any female that enters his claimed territory, though in most regions annual monogamy appears to be most common in this species. Nile crocodile_sentence_365

Females lay their eggs about one to two months after mating. Nile crocodile_sentence_366

The nesting season can fall in nearly every month of the year. Nile crocodile_sentence_367

In the northern extremes of the distribution (i.e. Somalia or Egypt), the nesting season is December through February while in the southern limits (i.e. South Africa or Tanzania) is in August through December. Nile crocodile_sentence_368

In crocodiles between these distributions egg-laying is in intermediate months, often focused between April and July. Nile crocodile_sentence_369

The dates correspond to about a month or two into the dry season within that given region. Nile crocodile_sentence_370

The benefits of this are presumably that nest flooding risk is considerably reduced at this time and the stage at which hatchlings begin their lives out of the egg falls roughly at the beginning of the rainy season, when water levels are still relatively low but insect prey is in recovery. Nile crocodile_sentence_371

Preferred nesting locations are sandy shores, dry stream beds, or riverbanks. Nile crocodile_sentence_372

The female digs a hole a few metres from the bank and up to 0.5 m (20 in) deep, and lays on average between 25 and 80 eggs. Nile crocodile_sentence_373

The number of eggs varies and depends partially on the size of the female. Nile crocodile_sentence_374

The most significant prerequisites to a nesting site are soil with the depth to permit the female to dig out the nest mound, shading to which mother can retire during the heat of the day and access to water. Nile crocodile_sentence_375

She finds a spot soft enough to allow her to dig a sideways slanted burrow. Nile crocodile_sentence_376

The mother Nile crocodile deposits the eggs in the terminal chamber and packs the sand or earth back over the nest pit. Nile crocodile_sentence_377

While, like all crocodilians, the Nile crocodile digs out a hole for a nest site, unlike most other modern crocodilians, female Nile crocodiles bury their eggs in sand or soil rather than incubate them in rotting vegetation. Nile crocodile_sentence_378

The female may micturate sporadically on the soil to keep it moist, which prevents soil from hardening excessively. Nile crocodile_sentence_379

After burying the eggs, the female then guards them for the three-month incubation period. Nile crocodile_sentence_380

Nests have been recorded seldom in concealed positions such as under a bush or in grasses, but normally in open spots on the bank. Nile crocodile_sentence_381

It is thought the Nile crocodile cannot nest under heavy forest cover as can two of the three other African crocodiles because they do not utilize rotting leaves (a very effective method of producing heat for the eggs) and thus require sunlight on sand or soil the surface of the egg chamber to provide the appropriate warmth for embryo development. Nile crocodile_sentence_382

In South Africa, the invasive plant Chromolaena odorata has recently exploded along banks traditionally used by crocodiles as nesting sites and caused nest failures by blocking sunlight over the nest chamber. Nile crocodile_sentence_383

When Nile crocodiles have been entirely free from disturbance in the past, they may nest gregariously with the nest lying so close together that after hatching time the rims of craters are almost contiguous. Nile crocodile_sentence_384

These communal nesting sites are not known to exist today, perhaps being most recently recorded at Ntoroko peninsula, Uganda where two such sites remaining until 1952. Nile crocodile_sentence_385

In one area, 17 craters were found in an area of 25 yd × 22 yd (75 ft × 66 ft), in another 24 in an area of 26 yd × 24 yd (78 ft × 72 ft). Nile crocodile_sentence_386

Communal nesting areas also reported from Lake Victoria (up until the 1930s) and also in the 20th century at Rahad River, Lake Turkana and Malawi. Nile crocodile_sentence_387

The behaviour of the female Nile crocodile is considered unpredictable and may be driven by the regional extent of prior human disturbance and human persecution rather than natural variability. Nile crocodile_sentence_388

In some areas, the mother crocodiles will only leave the nest if she needs to cool off (thermoregulation) by taking a quick dip or seeking out a patch of shade. Nile crocodile_sentence_389

Females will not leave nest site even if rocks throw at her back and several authors note her trance-like state while standing near nest, similar to crocodiles in aestivation but not like any other stage in their life-cycle. Nile crocodile_sentence_390

In such a trance, some mother Nile crocodiles may show no discernable reaction even if pelted with stones. Nile crocodile_sentence_391

At other times, the female will fiercely attack anything approaching their eggs, sometimes joined by another crocodile which may be the sire of the young. Nile crocodile_sentence_392

In other areas, the nesting female may disappear upon potential disturbance which may allow the presence of both the female and her buried nest to escape unwanted detection by predators. Nile crocodile_sentence_393

Despite the attentive care of both parents, the nests are often raided by humans and monitor lizards or other animals while she is temporarily absent. Nile crocodile_sentence_394

At a reported incubation period of about 90 days, the stage is notably shorter than that of the American alligator (110–120 days) but slightly longer than that of the mugger crocodile. Nile crocodile_sentence_395

Nile crocodiles have temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), which means the sex of their hatchlings is determined not by genetics as is the case in mammals and birds, but by the average temperature during the middle third of their incubation period. Nile crocodile_sentence_396

If the temperature inside the nest is below 31.7 °C (89.1 °F), or above 34.5 °C (94.1 °F), the offspring will be female. Nile crocodile_sentence_397

Males can only be born if the temperature is within that narrow range. Nile crocodile_sentence_398

The hatchlings start to make a high-pitched chirping noise before hatching, which is the signal for the mother to rip open the nest. Nile crocodile_sentence_399

It is thought to be either difficult or impossible for hatchlings to escape the nest burrow without assistance, as the surface may become very heavy and packed above them. Nile crocodile_sentence_400

The mother crocodile may pick up the eggs in her mouth, and roll them between their tongue and the upper palate to help crack the shell and release her offspring. Nile crocodile_sentence_401

Once the eggs hatch, the female may lead the hatchlings to water, or even carry them there in her mouth, as female American alligators have been observed doing. Nile crocodile_sentence_402

Hatchling Nile crocodiles are between 280 and 300 mm (11 and 12 in) long at first and weigh around 70 g (2.5 oz). Nile crocodile_sentence_403

The hatchlings grow approximately that length each year for the first several years. Nile crocodile_sentence_404

The new mother will protect her offspring for up to two years, and if there are multiple nests in the same area, the mothers may form a crèche. Nile crocodile_sentence_405

During this time, the mothers may pick up their offspring either in their mouths or gular fold (throat pouch), to keep the babies safe. Nile crocodile_sentence_406

The mother will sometimes carry her young on her back to avoid the natural predators of the small crocodiles, which can be surprisingly bold even with the mother around. Nile crocodile_sentence_407

Nile crocodiles of under two years are much more rarely observed than larger specimens, and more seldom seen than the same age young in several other types of crocodilian. Nile crocodile_sentence_408

Young crocodiles are rather shy and evasive due to the formidable gaunlet of predators that they must face in sub-Saharan Africa, spending little time sunning and moving about nocturnally whenever possible. Nile crocodile_sentence_409

The two-year-and-younger crocodiles may spend a surprising amount of time on land, as evidenced by the range of terrestrial insects found in their stomachs, and their lifestyle may resemble a semi-aquatic mid-sized lizard more so than the very aquatic lives of older crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_410

At the end of the two years, the hatchlings will be about 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) long, and will naturally depart the nest area, avoiding the territories of older and larger crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_411

After this stage, crocodiles may loosely associate with similarly sized crocodiles and many assuredly enter feeding congregations of crocodiles once they attain 2 m (6 ft 7 in), at which size predators and cannibal crocodiles become much less of a concern. Nile crocodile_sentence_412

Crocodile longevity is not well established, but larger species like the Nile crocodile live longer, and may have a potential average life span of 70 to 100 years, though no crocodilian species commonly exceeds a lifespan of 50 to 60 years in captivity. Nile crocodile_sentence_413

Natural mortality of young Nile crocodiles Nile crocodile_section_19

An estimated 10% of eggs will survive to hatch and a mere 1% of young that hatch will successfully reach adulthood. Nile crocodile_sentence_414

The full range of causes for mortality of young Nile crocodiles is not well understood, as very young and small Nile crocodiles or well-concealed nests are only sporadically observed. Nile crocodile_sentence_415

Unseasonable flooding (during nesting which corresponds with the regional dry season) is not uncommon and has probably destroyed several nests, although statistical likelihood of such an event is not known. Nile crocodile_sentence_416

The only aspect of mortality in this age range that is well studied is predation and this is most likely the primary cause of death while the saurians are still diminutive. Nile crocodile_sentence_417

The single most virulent predator of nests is almost certainly the Nile monitor. Nile crocodile_sentence_418

This predator can destroy about 50% of studied Nile crocodile eggs on its own, often being successful (as are other nest predators) in light of the trance-like state that the mother crocodile enters while brooding or taking advantage of moments where she is distracted or needs to leave the nest. Nile crocodile_sentence_419

In comparison, perenties (Varanus giganteus) (the Australian ecological equivalent of the Nile monitor) succeeds in depredating about 90% of freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni) eggs and about 25% of saltwater crocodile nests. Nile crocodile_sentence_420

Mammalian predators can take nearly as heavy of a toll, especially large mongooses such the Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) in the north and the water mongoose in the south of crocodile's range. Nile crocodile_sentence_421

Opportunistic mammals who attack Nile crocodile nests have included wild pigs, medium-sized wild cats and baboon troops. Nile crocodile_sentence_422

Like Nile monitors, mammalian predators probably locate crocodile nests by scent as the padded-down mound is easy to miss visually. Nile crocodile_sentence_423

Marabou storks sometimes follow monitors to pirate crocodile eggs for themselves to consume, although can also dig out nests on their own with their massive, awl-like bills if they can visually discern the nest mound. Nile crocodile_sentence_424

Predators of Nile crocodiles eggs have ranged from insects such as the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) to predators as large and formidable as spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Nile crocodile_sentence_425

Unsurprisingly, once exposed to the elements as hatchlings, the young, small Nile crocodiles are even more vulnerable. Nile crocodile_sentence_426

Most of the predators of eggs also opportunistically eat young crocodiles, including monitors and marabous, plus almost all co-existing raptorial birds, including vultures, eagles, and large owls and buzzards. Nile crocodile_sentence_427

Many "large waders" are virulent predators of crocodile hatchlings, from dainty little egrets (Egretta garzetta) and compact hamerkops (Scopus umbretta) to towering saddle-billed storks (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), goliath herons and shoebills (Balaeniceps rex). Nile crocodile_sentence_428

Larger corvids and some non-wading water birds (i.e. pelicans) can also take some young Nile crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_429

Mammalian carnivores take many hatchlings as well as large turtles and snakes, large predatory freshwater fish, such as the African tigerfish, the introduced largemouth bass, and possibly bull sharks, when they enter river systems. Nile crocodile_sentence_430

When crocodile nests are dug out and the young placed in water by the mother, in areas such as Royal Natal National Park predators can essentially enter a feeding frenzy. Nile crocodile_sentence_431

It may take a few years before predation is no longer a major cause of mortality for young crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_432

African fish eagles can take crocodile hatchlings up to a few months of age and honey badgers can prey on yearlings. Nile crocodile_sentence_433

Once they reach their juvenile stage, very large African rock pythons and big cats remain as the only predatory threat to young crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_434

Perhaps no predator is more deadly to young Nile crocodiles than larger crocodiles of their own species, as, like most crocodilians, they are cannibalistic. Nile crocodile_sentence_435

This species may be particularly dangerous to their own kind considering the aggressive disposition they tend to bear. Nile crocodile_sentence_436

While the mother crocodile will react aggressively toward potential predators and has been recorded chasing and occasionally catching and killing such interlopers into her range, due to the sheer number of animals who feed on baby crocodiles and the large number of hatchlings, she is more often unsuccessful at deflecting such predators. Nile crocodile_sentence_437

Environmental status Nile crocodile_section_20

Conservation organizations have determined that the main threats to Nile crocodiles, in turn, are loss of habitat, pollution, hunting, and human activities such as accidental entanglement in fishing nets. Nile crocodile_sentence_438

Though the Nile crocodile has been hunted since ancient times, the advent of the readily available firearm made it much easier to kill these potentially dangerous reptiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_439

The species began to be hunted on a much larger scale from the 1940s to the 1960s, primarily for high-quality leather, although also for meat with its purported curative properties. Nile crocodile_sentence_440

The population was severely depleted, and the species faced extinction. Nile crocodile_sentence_441

National laws, and international trade regulations have resulted in a resurgence in many areas, and the species as a whole is no longer wholly threatened with extinction. Nile crocodile_sentence_442

The status of Nile crocodiles was variable based on the regional prosperity and extent of conserved wetlands by the 1970s. Nile crocodile_sentence_443

However, as is the case for many large animal species whether they are protected or not, persecution and poaching have continued apace and between the 1950s and 1980s, an estimated 3 million Nile crocodiles were slaughtered by humans for the leather trade. Nile crocodile_sentence_444

In Lake Sibaya, South Africa, it was determined that in the 21st century, persecution continues as the direct cause for the inability of Nile crocodiles to recover after the leather trade last century. Nile crocodile_sentence_445

Recovery for the species appears quite gradual and few areas have recovered to bear crocodile populations, i.e. largely insufficient to produce sustainable populations of young crocodiles, on par with times prior to the peak of leather trading. Nile crocodile_sentence_446

Crocodile 'protection programs' are artificial environments where crocodiles exist safely and without the threat of extermination from hunters. Nile crocodile_sentence_447

An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 individuals occur in the wild today. Nile crocodile_sentence_448

The IUCN Red List assesses the Nile crocodile as "Least Concern (LR/lc)". Nile crocodile_sentence_449

The CITES lists the Nile crocodile under Appendix I (threatened with extinction) in most of its range; and under Appendix II (not threatened, but trade must be controlled) in the remainder, which either allows ranching or sets an annual quota of skins taken from the wild. Nile crocodile_sentence_450

The Nile crocodile is also widely distributed, with strong, documented populations in many countries in eastern and southern Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Nile crocodile_sentence_451

This species is farmed for its meat and leather in some parts of Africa. Nile crocodile_sentence_452

Successful sustainable-yield programs focused on ranching crocodiles for their skins have been successfully implemented in this area, and even countries with quotas are moving toward ranching. Nile crocodile_sentence_453

In 1993, 80,000 Nile crocodile skins were produced, the majority from ranches in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Nile crocodile_sentence_454

Crocodile farming is one of the few burgeoning industries in Zimbabwe. Nile crocodile_sentence_455

Unlike American alligator flesh, Nile crocodile meat is generally considered unappetizing although edible as tribes such as the Turkana may opportunistically feed on them. Nile crocodile_sentence_456

According to Graham and Beard (1968), Nile crocodile meat has an "indescribable" and unpleasant taste, greasy texture and a "repellent" smell. Nile crocodile_sentence_457

The conservation situation is more grim in central and west Africa presumably for both the Nile and west African crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_458

The crocodile population in this area is much more sparse, and has not been adequately surveyed. Nile crocodile_sentence_459

While the natural population in these areas may be lower due to a less-than-ideal environment and competition with sympatric slender-snouted and dwarf crocodiles, extirpation may be a serious threat in some of these areas. Nile crocodile_sentence_460

At some point in the 20th century, the Nile crocodile appeared to have been extirpated as a breeding species from Egypt, but has locally re-established in some areas such as the Aswan Dam. Nile crocodile_sentence_461

Additional factors are a loss of wetland habitats, which is addition to direct dredging, damming and irrigation by humans, has retracted in the east, south and north of the crocodile's range, possibly in correlation with global warming. Nile crocodile_sentence_462

Retraction of wetlands due both to direct habitat destruction by humans and environmental factor possibly related to global warming is perhaps linked to the extinction of Nile crocodiles in the last few centuries in Syria, Israel and Tunisia. Nile crocodile_sentence_463

In Lake St. Lucia, highly saline water has been pumped into the already brackish waters due to irrigation practices. Nile crocodile_sentence_464

Some deaths of crocodiles appeared to have been caused by these dangerous saline levels and this one-time stronghold for breeding crocodiles has experienced a major population decline. Nile crocodile_sentence_465

In yet another historic crocodile stronghold, the Olifants River, which flows through Kruger National Park, numerous crocodile deaths have been reported. Nile crocodile_sentence_466

These are officially due to unknown causes but analysis has indicated that environmental pollutants caused by humans, particularly the burgeoning coal industry, are the primary cause. Nile crocodile_sentence_467

Much of the contamination of crocodiles occurs when they consume rancid fish themselves killed by pollutants. Nile crocodile_sentence_468

Additional ecological surveys and establishing management programs are necessary to resolve these questions. Nile crocodile_sentence_469

The Nile crocodile is the top predator in its environment, and is responsible for checking the population of mesopredator species, such as the barbel catfish and lungfish, that could overeat fish populations on which other species, including birds, rely. Nile crocodile_sentence_470

One of the fish predators seriously affected by the unchecked mesopredator fish populations (due again to crocodile declines) is humans, particularly with respect to tilapia, an important commercial fish that has declined due to excessive predation. Nile crocodile_sentence_471

The Nile crocodile also consumes dead animals that would otherwise pollute the waters. Nile crocodile_sentence_472

Attacks on humans Nile crocodile_section_21

See also: Crocodile attack Nile crocodile_sentence_473

Much of the hunting of and general animosity toward Nile crocodiles stems from their reputation as a man-eater, which is not entirely unjustified. Nile crocodile_sentence_474

Despite most attacks going unreported, the Nile crocodile along with the saltwater crocodile is estimated to kill hundreds (possibly thousands) of people each year, which is more than all other crocodilian species combined. Nile crocodile_sentence_475

While these species are much more aggressive toward people than other living crocodilians (as is statistically supported by estimated numbers of crocodile attacks), Nile crocodiles are not particularly more likely to behave aggressively to humans or regard humans as potential prey than saltwater crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_476

However, unlike other "man-eating" crocodile species, including the saltwater crocodile, the Nile crocodile lives in close proximity to human populations through most of its range, so contact is more frequent. Nile crocodile_sentence_477

This combined with the species’ large size renders a higher risk of attack. Nile crocodile_sentence_478

Crocodiles as small as 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) are capable of overpowering and successfully preying on small apes and hominids, presumably including children and smaller adult humans, but a majority of fatal attacks on humans are by crocodiles reportedly exceeding 3 m (9 ft 10 in) in length. Nile crocodile_sentence_479

In studies preceding the slaughter of crocodiles for the leather trade, when there were believed to be many more Nile crocodiles, a roughly estimated 1,000 human fatalities per annum by Nile crocodiles were posited with a roughly equal number of aborted attacks. Nile crocodile_sentence_480

A more contemporary study claimed the number of attacks by Nile crocodiles per year as 275 to 745, of which 63% are fatal, as opposed to an estimated 30 attacks per year by saltwater crocodiles, of which 50% are fatal. Nile crocodile_sentence_481

With the Nile crocodile and the saltwater crocodile, the mean size of crocodiles involved in non-fatal attacks was about 3 m (9 ft 10 in) as opposed to a reported range of 2.5–5 m (8 ft 2 in–16 ft 5 in) or larger for crocodiles responsible for fatal attacks. Nile crocodile_sentence_482

The average estimated size of Nile crocodiles involved in fatal attacks is 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in). Nile crocodile_sentence_483

Since a majority of fatal attacks are believed to be predatory in nature, the Nile crocodile can be considered the most prolific predator of humans among wild animals. Nile crocodile_sentence_484

In comparison, lions, in the years from 1990 to 2006, were responsible for an estimated one-eighth as many fatal attacks on humans in Africa as were Nile crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_485

Although Nile crocodiles are more than a dozen times more numerous than lions in the wild, probably fewer than a quarter of living Nile crocodiles are old and large enough to pose a danger to humans. Nile crocodile_sentence_486

Other wild animals responsible for more annual human mortalities either attack humans in self-defense, as do venomous snakes, or are deadly only as vectors of disease or infection, such as snails, rats and mosquitos. Nile crocodile_sentence_487

Regional reportage from numerous areas with large crocodile populations nearby indicate, per district or large village, that crocodiles often annually claim about a dozen or more lives per year. Nile crocodile_sentence_488

Miscellaneous examples of areas in the last few decades with a dozen or more fatal crocodile attacks annually include Korogwe District, Tanzania, Niassa Reserve, Mozambique and the area around Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia. Nile crocodile_sentence_489

Despite historic claims that the victims of Nile crocodile attacks are usually "women and children", there is no detectable trends in this regard and any human, regardless of age, gender, or size is potentially vulnerable. Nile crocodile_sentence_490

Incautious human behavior is the primary drive behind crocodile attacks. Nile crocodile_sentence_491

Most fatal attacks occur when a person is standing a few feet away from water on a non-steep bank, is wading in shallow waters, actively swimming or have limbs dangling over a boat or pier. Nile crocodile_sentence_492

Many victims are caught while crouching and people in jobs that might require heavy usage of water including laundry workers, fisherman, game wardens and regional guides are more likely to be attacked. Nile crocodile_sentence_493

Many fisherman and other workers who are not poverty-stricken will go out of their way to avoid waterways known to harbor large crocodile populations. Nile crocodile_sentence_494

Most biologists who have engaged in months or even years of field work with Nile crocodiles, including Cott (1961), Graham and Beard (1968) and Guggisberg (1972), have found that with sufficient precautions, their own lives and the lives of their local guides were rarely, if ever, at risk in areas with many crocodiles. Nile crocodile_sentence_495

However, Guggisberg accumulated several earlier writings that noted the lack of fear of crocodiles among Africans, driven in part perhaps by poverty and superstition, that caused many observed cases of an "appalling" lack of caution within view of large crocodiles, as opposed to the presence of bold lions which engendered an appropriate panic. Nile crocodile_sentence_496

Per Guggisberg, this disregard (essentially regarding the crocodile as a lowly creature and thus non-threatening to humans) may account for the seemingly higher frequency of deadly attacks by crocodiles than by large mammalian carnivores. Nile crocodile_sentence_497

Most locals are well aware of how to behave in crocodile-occupied areas and some of the writings quoted by Guggisberg from the 19th and 20th century may require being taken with a "grain of salt". Nile crocodile_sentence_498

See also Nile crocodile_section_22

Nile crocodile_unordered_list_0

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: crocodile.