Class: Reptilia (Reptile)
Body length: 10 to 13 (3 to 4 meters)
Weight: up to 500 pounds (230 kilograms)
Life span: 50+ years
Number of eggs laid: 13 to 27
Incubation: up to110 days
Age of maturity: 10 to 15 years
Conservation status: endangered
• The slender-snouted crocodile’s species name cataphractus means “pebble
worm, clad in armor.”
• The adult crocodile’s call has been described as sounding like a car backfiring!
• Slender-snouted crocs are also known as sharp-nosed, or long-snouted crocodiles.
• Do you know where the expression "to cry crocodile tears" came from? Crost do "cry," but the only purpose of the tears is to get rid of excess salt.
Reptiles: Slender-Snouted Crocodile
You never see
Built for stealth, the slender-snouted crocodile is an effective aquatic predator. With coloration that varies from brown to a grayish green, sometimes with black splotches, this crocodile camouflages very well in its watery home. Even its underside, with its creamy yellow color, makes it hard for potential prey swimming below the croc to see it coming.
The eyes (and nose, ears, and teeth) have it
Like most crocs, the slender-snouted crocodile has excellent senses of sight, smell, and hearing. Also like other crocodiles, the slender-snouted croc’s nose, eyes, and ears all line up along the top of the animal's head. This way, it can lie almost completely submerged in the water but still be able to see, smell, and hear everything going on above the surface.
A breed apart
Slender-snouted crocodiles are unique members of the crocodilian family. They are from the deep forest areas of central and western Africa and are somewhat shy and secretive. The animal’s trademark, and the reason for its name, is its long, slender snout. Inside its mouth are 64 to 70 sharp teeth. This lighter, more narrow snout is perfect for snatching the croc’s favorite food: fish. The unique snout (mouth and nose combined) can often act like a pair of tweezers and allows the crocodile to remove prey from holes and small crevices. The slender-snouted crocodile might also eat other smaller aquatic invertebrates, such as shrimp or crabs, and small mammals. And, like other crocodiles, the slender-snouted croc will often take advantage of an opportunity to eat larger animals that come to the water to drink. At the San Diego Zoo, the slender-snouted crocodiles are offered fish, mice, and rats.
Rows of protective scales running down its neck and back also set the slender-snouted crocodile apart from other crocodilians. Most crocs just have two rows of the scales; this croc has three, or often four.
Rapids or waves?
Though usually found in freshwater rivers, the slender-snouted crocodile is also occasionally found in lakes, and even somewhat salty waters along the coast. This suggests that the slender-snouted croc displays at least a reasonable tolerance to salt water—a most effective adaptation that allows the croc to travel to more food sources.
Are you my mother?
Adult slender-snouted crocodiles are solitary for most of the year, except when they’re searching for a mate. The adult females, called cows, are generally considered to be very good mothers to their offspring. When it comes time to lay her eggs, a mother crocodile builds a nest made of wet forest vegetation on the riverbank, where her hatchlings will be protected. As the vegetation decays, it heats up like a compost pile and helps keep the eggs warm. As they incubate, the mother is never far away from the nest. When the babies begin to hatch from their eggs, they emit a chirping sound as if to say, “Hey, Mom! I could use a little help here!” The mother crocodile then gently helps her babies chip out of their shells. Eggs usually hatch during the rainy season. The hatchlings are able to head out into the surrounding flooded forest habitat soon after breaking free from their egg. The mother will keep a protective watch over her young until they are old enough to live on their own.
The population of slender-snouted crocs is dwindling, mostly due to hunting for their meat and skin to make leather products such as shoes, belts, purses, and more. The crocs are also losing more of their habitat as people move into their areas, and the increase of humans fishing for the same food as the crocs eat has caused problems for the crocs as well. Because we still know so little about this animal in the wild, more studies need to be done to learn what can be done to help. You can help all crocodilians by not buying products made from their skin. We think you'll agree the skin looks much better on the crocodile!