Introduction to crocodiles :
Crocodiles are large-sized reptiles that are at the top of predators, crocodiles belong to the archosaurs, an ancient group of reptiles that also includes dinosaurs, and although dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, the nature of semi-aquatic crocodiles allowed them to successfully survive in their natural habitats.
There are currently about 13 different species of crocodiles that live in freshwater and saltwater environments throughout North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Feeding crocodiles :
Crocodiles are omnivores, which means they eat only meat, preferring to feast on fish, birds, frogs, and crustaceans, and also eat small animals, such as rats and mice.
Crocodiles grab prey using their huge jaws, then crush it and swallow it whole, they do not have the ability to chew it or cut it into small pieces like other animals, and to help digestion crocodiles swallow small stones that enable them to grind food in their stomach, and thanks to slow metabolic processes, crocodiles can survive for months without food.
Mating and reproduction of crocodiles :
Crocodiles reproduce sexually, crocodiles flirt with each other using changes in body shape, touch, pronunciation, or through chemical signals, and then the mating process occurs.
The female crocodile lays from 12 to 48 eggs at a time, depending on her age, size, and type, and one egg weighs between 50 to 160 grams, and it is reported that there are two types of nests for laying eggs; some types of crocodiles dig a hole in the ground and lay eggs in it and then cover it with dirt again, while others build a pile of plant material and soil, to lay eggs in it.
The incubation period of eggs lasts from 55 to 100 days, and the sex of the fetus is determined by the temperature of the egg during the first half of the incubation period, as eggs with cooler and warmer temperatures produce females, and eggs with medium temperatures produce males, while both sexes produce eggs whose temperatures are close to 31 degrees Celsius.
Two or three months after laying the eggs, the young are ready to hatch. the female removes dirt and debris from the eggs and helps the young to get to the water. she also usually stays close to her young and provides them with protection from predators for several weeks to months until they grow up and disperse.
Qualities of crocodiles :
Crocodiles are characterized by a set of morphological and behavioral traits that distinguish them from other animals, and below is an explanation of these qualities:
Morphological qualities of crocodiles :
Here are the most important morphological qualities of crocodiles:
- Their body is covered with scales since the scales consist of waterproof armored plates that protect them from predators and prevent their bodies from drying out.
- Crocodile scales come in a variety of colors; such as pale olive green, brownish green, gray, and black, and therefore crocodiles are able to camouflage in the surrounding water and vegetation.
- The Shape of crocodiles is suitable for their amphibious life, their elongated body and long muscular tail are well suited for fast swimming, and the external nostrils, eyes, and ear holes are located on the highest parts of the head in line with their breathing out of the water.
- Crocodiles have irregular outer edges of the jaws, and each jaw carries a row of conical teeth, where number of teeth of crocodiles is more than 100, which are constantly replaced, as new teeth grow from below forcing the old teeth out, crocodiles also have thick tongues firmly attached to the floor of the mouth.
- Crocodiles have short but strong legs, the hind legs are stronger than the forelegs, the front foot has 5 toes and the Hind has only four toes, and they are fully or partially webbed.
- The upper part of the tail of crocodiles carries two crests with high triangular scales that gradually merge closer to the middle of the tail.
Behavioral qualities of crocodiles :
Here are the most important behavioral traits of crocodiles:
- Crocodiles spend a lot of time swimming, they are semi-aquatic reptiles.
- Crocodiles are cold-blooded like all reptiles, so they have to spend time on the ground to warm their bodies during the hot daylight hours.
- The bodies of crocodiles are more agile in the water, as they use their powerful tails for propulsion.
Crocodile senses :
Crocodiles have a set of very strong senses, which enable them to survive, and from these senses what comes:
Crocodiles have eyes with a pupil in the form of a long slit, this pupil narrows in bright light and widens in the Dark, which gives them the ability to control the amount of light entering the back wall of the eye, which means taking advantage of the small amount of light available at night to achieve the best vision.
Hearing aids :
Crocodiles have a strong sense of hearing, and unlike the ears of other modern reptiles, crocodile ears have a movable outer membrane flap that protects the ears from water.
The sun :
Crocodiles have a very developed sense of smell since it is possible that this sense is activated in the egg before hatching.
Touch and taste :
There is not much information available about these two senses, but crocodiles enjoy caressing each other with their mouths and touching their bodies during the mating season.
The benefits of crocodiles for the environment and man :
Although crocodiles are a great enemy of man, they, as a whole creature on this earth, have many benefits, including the following:
- Crocodiles have a ferocious digestive system that is immune to bacteria, viruses, and microbes, as some ecologists believe that the extinction of crocodiles can disrupt environmental processes and destroy the ecosystem.
- They prevent fish and marine animals from overcrowding, and, consequently, the degradation of the ecosystem.
- It protects important water habitats against wild animals and helps to preserve marine life.
- They are bred commercially to take advantage of their skins in the manufacture of some products such as handbags and shoes, which are expensive.
- Its meat is a delicacy in some countries, crocodile meat is a traditional diet in; Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Africa, and it is a delicacy in the West.