CROCODILES AND ALLIGATORS
- Crocodiles and alligators are both reptiles from the same order of animals, named Crocodylia.• Crocodilians have been around since the dinosaurs! Appearing about 240 million years ago, crocodilians have survived nearly every earthly threat. They have outlived dinosaurs, ice ages, and more, yet they have changed very little over time. The only reptiles older than crocodilians are turtles, tortoises, and tuatara.
• Like all reptiles, crocodilians are cold-blooded and have to regulate their body temperature with their surroundings. Alligators do this by cooling off in the shade or the water and warming up in the sun. Alligators and crocodiles, like most reptiles, also lay eggs and their skin is covered with hard, dry scales.
• Crocodilians are most at home in or near the water. Crocs can hold their breath underwater for more than an hour and often times look like logs that are floating in a swamp or washed up on shore. But don't be fooled by this lack of activity—crocs can swim up to 20 miles per hour and can run on land as fast as 11 miles per hour for short
SENSES & DIET
- Even though you may not be able to see a croc's ears, they have excellent hearing. Slits on their head lead to a well-developed inner ear. These slits close up to keep water out when a croc dives. Their hear is so good, it is believed that they can even hear their young calling from inside their eggshells!• Crocodilians also have excellent eyesight above water, similar to an owl's. Their eyes are placed on top of their head so they can see well as they cruise the water looking for prey and they have good vision at night because their vertical pupils can open wider than our round ones to let in more light.
• Special organs in a crocs snout also give it a great sense of smell.
• The most interesting sense organs are embedded in the skin of a crocodilian’s head, body, legs, and tail work like motion detectors to help them feel what is around it. This is a great help when searching for prey in muddy water!
• All crocodilians are carnivores (they eat meat) and very efficient hunters. They eat whatever they can catch in the water or along the shore including fish, turtles, frogs, birds, pigs, deer, buffalo, and monkeys, depending on the size of the croc. Crocs don't chew their food. They either tear off large pieces to swallow or they swallow the prey whole if it's small enough. A croc has to juggle the food around until it's in the right position, and then toss its head back so the food slides down its throat. Crocs are considered apex predators, which means they reside at the top of the food chain. There are few to no other animals that can pose a threat to them.
Despite all of these amazing facts, crocodilians remain a misunderstood group of animals, most of which face serious threats to their habitat as well as being hunted for their skin by humans. Of the 23 species of crocodilians, 7 are critically endangered, and nearly all are at risk.
What’s the difference between CROCODILES & ALLIGATORS
Although they appear to be very similar, there are a number of important differences, which set these apex predators apart.
•Jaw Shape - You can tell alligators and crocodiles apart mostly by the width of their snout. An Alligator will have shorter, wider heads with a broad nose while a crocodile will usually have a longer, more V-shaped pointed head and snout.
•Teeth— In crocodiles, the fourth tooth on the lower jaw sticks up over the upper lip, so you can see it when their mouth is closed. In alligators, this fourth tooth is covered up because their upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and completely overlaps it; therefore, the teeth in the lower jaw are almost completely hidden when the mouth closes.
• Size - Most Crocodiles are bigger than alligators (depending on the species)
• Color - Alligators are generally darker in color than crocodiles.
• Habitat— All crocodiles have special glands in their tongues that can excrete (get rid of) excess salt, so they tend to live in saltwater habitats such as mangrove swamps and estuaries. Alligators do not have these glands, so they prefer to live in freshwater habitats.
• Crocodiles are more aggressive than alligators (depending on the species). Alligators, unlike the large crocodiles, do not immediately regard a human as prey, but may still attack in self-defense if provoked.
• There are only two kinds of alligators (the American Alligator and the Chinese Alligator) and only two countries in the world where alligators can be found: China and the United States. Alligators in the US are found in the southeast, mostly in Florida and Louisiana. Crocodiles are more widespread being found in the tropics inhabiting the large rivers of Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Australia.
With 23 species of crocodilians, though, these general rules don't always apply—there are always exceptions!
DID YOU KNOW these Crocodile Facts?
- The word crocodile comes from the Ancient Greek word 'crocodilos' meaning "lizard"• Crocodiles grow to the length of 16 - 18 feet, and inhabit the large rivers of Africa, Asia, Australia and America• The largest of the crocodiles is the Saltwater Crocodile The largest saltwater crocodile ever recorded in captivity was 20.24 feet long.
• Some crocodile species can weigh over 2300 pounds!
• The smallest of the crocodiles is the Dwarf Crocodile, which rarely grows to more than 1.6 meters in length
• The best-known species is that of the Nile. Nile crocodiles are probably the most vicious and can take down a water buffalo • The Florida crocodile (Crocodylus Americanus) is much less common than the alligator and has longer jaws
• A crocodile has an ability to grow new teeth to replace the old teeth
• Crocodiles have the strongest bite of any animal in the world. The muscles that open crocodiles jaws however are not so powerful, reasonably strong people could hold a crocodiles jaw closed with their bare hands.
• The average age of crocodiles is 50 - 60 years but some have been known to live for over 100 years
• Crocodiles have long, powerful tails that propel them when swimming
• Their swimming speed can reach 25 mph
• Their eggs, known as clutches, are laid in the sand and hatched by the sun's heat.
• Crocodiles are protected in many parts of the world, but they also are farmed commercially to make shoes, belts, wallets and handbags from their skins
DID YOU KNOW these Alligator Facts?
- The name alligator is derived from the Spanish 'el lagarto' meaning "lizard"•The largest alligator ever recorded in the Everglades National Park in Florida was 17 feet 5 inches•The average lifespan for alligators is 50 years
•Alligators' have the ability to survive without eating for up to 1 year.
•The muscle in an alligator's jaw is intended for biting and gripping prey The muscles that close the jaws are exceptionally powerful but the muscles for opening their jaws are relatively weak. As a result, an adult human can hold an alligator's jaw shut with his bare hands
•An alligator is capable of short bursts of speed, a lunge that can exceed 30 miles per hour
•Males are called Bulls and females are called Cows
•The names given to babies are Hatchling
•For some species, like the American alligator, temperature within the nest determines whether it’s a boy or a girl: a low nest temperature tends to produce females and a high nest temperature usually produces males.
•An alligator is protective and caring of its young
*An alligator sweeps its long, thick tail back and forth to swim. On land, alligators often use their heavy tail to make wide, shallow holes called gator pits. When it rains, the pits fill with water and make a second home for the alligator. Other animals may use the pits as a water hole, but they have to be careful of the alligator!
•The majority of American alligators inhabit Florida and Louisiana, with over a million alligators in each state
•The Chinese alligator, known locally as Tu Long, or "muddy dragon," and just half the size of American alligators are nearly extinct
•The Chinese alligator is classified as a Critically Endangered Species. It faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future.
•The collective name for a group is a congregation or pod