Common Name: Crocodile

Type: Reptile

Family: Crocodylidae

Range: The Crocodile is an animal that is found mainly on the pacific slope start from Mexico to Pero including Colombia and the northern part of the Venezuela on Atlantic. In Costa Rica, the crocodiles are limited to the national Parks.

Size: Most of the adults can get an average length of 2.5 to 3 meters during their lifespan. However, at the time of hatch, there sizes are just 250 to 300 mm. Some male can reach to a length of 6-7 meters and making them to the world’s biggest species of crocodile. However, very few can reach to a length more than 4 meters.

Weight: Most of the adult crocodile can get a weight from 100 to 270 Kg.

Diet: The crocodiles are carnivore, their diet include the marine insects, small fishes, crabs, amphibians; the larger adults can eat any water animals from snails, fishes, crustaceans, frogs, turtles, caimans, iguanas, water birds, and undersized mammals.

Average life span: Crocodile can live up to 70 years

Habitat: Crocodiles make their territories in big rivers or watercourse, lagoons, swamps, or estuaries. They prefer to live in lowland, humid and wet forest. However, crocodile can be found in marshes, swamp forest, mangrove, at the mouth of the river and occasionally in the open sea also.

Breading season normally start in late August or September. Both the male and female become aggressive during this time. Male crocodiles are mature at the age of 16 and the female crocodiles are matured between 10-12 years. They are generally lay 40-60 eggs, but it can vary depending on the age and size of the crocodile. The embryo sex is determined by temperature. Males are created at 31.6 degrees C, while females are born at slightly lower and high temperatures. Their average incubation period is 80 days. It is estimated that almost 80% die during incubation.

Crocodiles are species that are in the Crocodylidae family.Crocodile originated from the Ancient Greek word crocodilos which means “lizard” (ho krokódilos ho potamós, “the lizard of the (Nile) river”).Crocodilos is a combination of kroke (pebbles) and drilos (worm). The original meaning of their name might be far from what crocodiles are but it is said that the word kroke describes the texture of their skins or some said that because of their nature to bask in pebbly grounds.

These aquatic reptiles live all over the jungles of Africa, Asia, North and South America and Australia. They usually gather in freshwater locations such as rivers, lakes, wetlands and not so often slightly salty water.

Two different types of crocodiles are available in Costa Rica. In the wetlands close to the coast and in estuaries, the crocodile can be seen while caiman that are much smaller to the crocodile can be found in valleys, swamps and rivers. They make their living by eating , mammals, aquatic animals, fish, frog ,snail and turtles.

The crocodiles that are found in Central America are bigger than few other crocodile species; Several crocodile males are getting a lengths of 6.1 meters. They are swim out as well into the open sea in search for food. In Costa Rica, they are mostly available to the national park. Such as Corcovado National Park, Carara National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Tortuguero, Taboga, Cañas, and on the Pacific coast on the Tarcoles river.

Crocodiles are consider to be biologically complex although their prehistoric appearance. They have cerebral cortex which is not present in other reptiles. Also they have four-chambered heart and by integrating their muscles, a diaphragm like technique is used for breathing underwater. Their sleek body allows them to swim fast. They also enfold their feet to the side to reduce water resistance. Crocodiles also have webbed feet, however they are not used for advancing in water, these make it easier to make quick turns in the water. Having webbed feet also is an advantage when the water is not deep since they move by walking in it. Crocodiles have a firm tissue at the rear of their mouth which prevents water to enter. The nostrils of crocodiles are closed when they enter the water. One thing that is interesting, crocodiles cannot stick out their tongue.

Crocodiles can move fast in and out of water. They use their razor sharp teeth to grab and hold their victims. Strong muscles around the mouth also help close their jaws and can hold it without moving an inch. Crocodiles can survive a long period of time without eating for their metabolism is very slow. They usually wait for preys to move close to them and lounge quickly for the attack. Crocodiles have the capability to keep their eyes open under water. Crocodiles can move around 28 mph on land. It is just about the speed of a fast human being. These creatures indulge themselves in eating fish, birds, mammals and sometimes other smaller crocodiles. There is loads of communication between the males and females before copulation. The male’s approach to the female and will touch the female, rub up against her with his jaw, blow bubbles underneath the females bodies, rub their musky sent on the female, and rumble softly. If the female is not impressed, she will leave the place immediately. If the female is agreed, she will lift her head high out of the water and often sing. The male will then start to make circle the female, go swimming over to her, and thrust her body underwater. He manages to rotate her back legs and tail to one side so he can align his vent with hers. Male crocodiles do not have paired “hemipenes” like other reptiles, but one single copulatory organ. Once they insert their penis into the female, the process can take quite a few minutes. The penis has a deep channel running along its length, down which semen journey to inseminate the female. The male can mate several times with the same female during the breeding season to ensure that he fertilizes her right after she ovulates.

Major portion of the crocodile species are of great danger towards humans. The significant danger that they pose is not their tendency to run after one person, but the mere fact that one cannot react in time as a crocodile strikes.

Their exteriors are good for making belt, shoes, bags, wallets and hats. Crocodile meat is eaten in some countries like Australia, Thailand, South Africa and Cuba.

The Costa Rican law forbids the killing of crocodiles. However, when they turn out to be a threat to humans, they are moved to the south of Puntarenas in the Tarcoles River. The visitors can watch groups of giant crocodiles from the top of the Tarcoles Bridge.

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