Philippine crocodile is considered an endemic of the eponymous archipelago. Until 1989, this reptile was identified with the New Guinean crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguinae), combining them into one species, but now the crocodile living in the Philippines is recognized as an independent species.
Unfortunately, the species is endangered - according to experts, no more than 200 surviving individuals live within the range. The reason, as for most of these sad stories, is active human activity. Poaching, a network and dynamite method of fishing, pollution and reduction of the natural habitat have put many species of animals, including the Philippine crocodile on the edge of the abyss.
An important role in the total destruction of these non-aggressive reptiles was played by the neighborhood with the combed crocodile, known for its cannibalistic predilections. It is clear that the Filipinos do not like these reptiles, and all the crocodiles that have turned up fall under the hot hand of the “Avengers”. In the language of Filipinos, the word "crocodile" is even considered a kind of insulting nickname.
Currently, these crocodiles are protected by law, which strictly prohibits the killing of these animals. Violation of this law is punishable by a fine of approximately $ 2,500.
The exceptional rarity of Filipino freshwater crocodiles can be judged by a curious fact - at the end of the last century, reptile specialist Dr. Brady Barr wanted to see with his own eyes each species of modern crocodiles. The most difficult task for him was to find a Filipino crocodile - only after a few weeks of tiresome searches, one of the older samples appeared before the scientist's eyes.
The scientific description of the Philippine crocodile was compiled in 1935 by the famous American zoologist-herpetologist (i.e., the specialist in amphibians, reptiles and amphibians) Carl Schmidt Patterson, giving him a binomial name Crocodylus mindorensis (Mindoro is one of the Philippine islands).
Typically, in scientific sources, this reptile is referred to as the “Philippine crocodile”, but sometimes there are such names as “the Mindoro crocodile” and “Philippine freshwater crocodile” (separating it from the sea combed crocodile).
Currently, the Philippine crocodile can still be found on islands of the archipelago such as Busuanga, Holo, Luzon, Masbate, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros and Samar, however, while this article will be added, it is possible that on any of the above islands the last individual of this extremely rare reptile died.
It lives in freshwater bodies of water, mainly closed ones (lakes, swamps, ponds, river backwaters, etc.). Not so long ago, the area of the Philippine crocodile covered numerous islands of the Malay archipelago, but at present this reptile has been preserved only in the Philippines. As is the case with many other crocodiles of the West Pacific region, the range of the Philippine crocodile intersects the area of a large and extremely aggressive reptile - the sea (combed) crocodile. For some time, zoologists even considered the Philippine crocodile a kind of combed crocodile, and then (as noted above) - the New Guinean living west.
These are relatively small crocodiles, the males of which only in exceptional cases grow longer than three meters (a record of 310 cm with a weight of about 40 kg). The usual length of sexually mature crocodiles is 1.5 meters and weighs 15 kg. Females are noticeably smaller than males.
The appearance of the Philippine crocodile is characterized by a relatively wide muzzle (compared with other crocodiles that live in the Western Pacific region). These crocodiles resemble the outwardly young combed crocodiles, with which they are often confused, and due to the "bad" glory of the latter, they used to be intensively exterminated by the local population.
The dorsal carapace is powerful, bone plates reliably protect the body of a small reptile from enemies.
Body color is light golden brown, belly is lighter. Across the body and tail, there are usually blurry dark streaks and almost black spots. With age, the color becomes darker and monotonous, acquiring brownish shades.
The number of teeth is 66-68.
Like many other lifestyle features of this rare reptile, the life expectancy of a Filipino crocodile is reliably unknown.
The diet of these reptiles includes mainly aquatic animals - fish, amphibians, amphibians, mollusks, waterfowl, crustaceans, and medium-sized land animals, inadvertently approaching the ambush site set up by the crocodile.
There is no information about cases of attacks on people. It can be assumed that due to its small size, this reptile does not pose a serious danger to humans.
Reproduction was studied in captivity. The female builds a relatively small bulk nest of foliage and dirt (about half a meter high and 1.5 m in diameter), then lays 7 to 20 small eggs in it.
Incubation lasts a little less than three months, then tiny crocodiles about a decimeter long hatch from the eggs.
The female protects the oviposition, and for some time takes care of the offspring.
Since the view Crocodylus mindorensis is endangered, it has been assigned conservation status CR - in critical condition.
External signs of a Philippine crocodile
Philippine crocodile is a relatively small species of freshwater crocodiles. It has a relatively wide front of the muzzle and heavy armor on its back. The body is about 3.02 meters long, but most individuals are much smaller. Males are about 2.1 meters long and females are 1.3 meters long.
Filipino or Mindor crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis)
Expanded scales on the back of the head range from 4 to 6, transverse abdominal scales from 22 to 25, and 12 transverse scales on the dorsal middle of the body. Young crocodiles on top are golden brown with transverse dark stripes, and white on their ventral side. As you age, the skin of a Philippine crocodile darkens and turns brown.
Filipino crocodile distribution
The Filipino crocodile has long inhabited the Philippine Islands - Dalupiri, Luzon, Mindoro, Masbat, Samar, Holo, Busuanga and Mindanao. According to recent reports, this species of reptiles is present in North Luzon and Mindanao.
Philippine crocodile has long inhabited the Philippine Islands
Filipino Crocodile Habitats
The Philippine crocodile prefers small wetlands, but also lives in shallow natural ponds and swamps, artificial ponds, shallow narrow streams, coastal streams and mangroves. It occurs in the waters of large rivers with a fast flow.
In the mountains spreads at heights of up to 850 meters.
Observed in the Sierra Madre in fast rivers with rapids and deep pools lined with limestone cliffs. Rock caves are used as shelters. The Philippine crocodile also hides in burrows along the sandy and clay banks of the river.
Philippine crocodile breeding
Females and males of the Philippine crocodile begin to breed when they have a body length of 1.3 - 2.1 meters and reach a weight of about 15 kilograms. Courtship and mating take place in the dry season from December to May. Egg-laying is usually from April to August, with a peak breeding at the beginning of the rainy season in May or June. Philippine crocodiles carry out the second laying 4-6 months after the first. Reptiles can have up to three clutches per year. Clutch sizes range from 7 to 33 eggs. The incubation period in nature lasts 65 - 78, 85 - 77 days in captivity.
Females and males of the Philippine crocodile begin to breed when they have a body length of 1.3 - 2.1 meters and reach a weight of about 15 kilograms.
As a rule, the nest is built by a female Filipino crocodile on the embankment or on the bank of the river, a pond at a distance of 4 - 21 meters from the water's edge. Nests are built in the dry season from dry leaves, twigs, bamboo leaves and soil. It has an average height of 55 cm, a length of 2 meters, a width of 1.7 meters. After laying the eggs, the male and the female take turns watching the clutch. In addition, the female regularly visits her nest either early in the morning or late in the evening.
Features of the behavior of the Philippine crocodile
Philippine crocodiles behave quite aggressively towards each other. Young crocodiles show intraspecific aggressiveness, creating separate territories on the basis of aggressive manifestations already in the second year of life. However, intraspecific aggressiveness is not observed among adults and sometimes pairs of adult crocodiles live in the same body of water. Crocodiles also share parts of larger rivers during droughts, when water levels are low, and they accumulate in shallow ponds and streams during the rainy season when rivers have high water levels.
The maximum daily distance covered by the male is 4.3 km per day and 4 km for the female.
The male can move to a greater distance, but less frequently. Favorable habitats for the Philippine crocodile have an average flow rate and a minimum depth, and the width should be maximum. The average distance between individuals is about 20 meters.
Philippine crocodile prefers small wetlands, but also lives in shallow natural water bodies and swamps
Plots with vegetation along the shores of the lake are preferred by young crocodiles, young, while in plots with open water and large logs, adults choose to warm themselves.
The color of the skin of a Filipino crocodile can vary depending on the situation or mood of the reptile. In addition, with jaws wide open, a bright yellow or orange tongue is a warning sign.
Filipino crocodile food
Young Filipino crocodiles feed on:
- small fish.
Food objects for adult reptiles are:
- large fish
- malay palm civet,
In captivity, reptiles eat:
- sea and freshwater fish,
- pork, beef, chicken and offal,
- shrimp, minced meat and white mice.
Value for man
Philippine crocodiles are regularly destroyed for meat and skin, from the 1950s to the 1970s. Eggs and chicks are much more vulnerable than adult crocodiles. Ants, monitor lizards, pigs, dogs, short-tailed mongooses, rats and other animals can eat eggs from a nest left unattended. Even the parental protection of the nest and offspring, which is an important adaptation of the species against predators, does not save from destruction.
Now this species of reptiles is so rare that it makes no sense to talk about prey animals for beautiful skin. Philippine crocodiles are a potential threat to livestock, although they now rarely appear near settlements to have a significant impact on the number of domestic animals, so their presence is not considered a direct threat to humans.
The Philippine crocodile is on the IUCN Red List with status - endangered.
The conservation status of the Philippine crocodile
The Philippine crocodile is on the IUCN Red List with status - endangered. Mentioned in Appendix I CITES.
The Philippine crocodile has been protected by the Wildlife Act since 2001 and the Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).
The Department of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources (MOPR) is the body responsible for protecting crocodiles and preserving their habitat. The IPRF has created a national Philippine crocodile reinstatement program to save this species from extinction.
The first nursery in the environmental center of the Silliman University (CCP), as well as other programs for the distribution of a rare species, solve the problem of reintroduction of the species. The MPRF also has many agreements with zoos in North America, Europe, Australia and to implement programs to preserve a unique reptile.
The Mabuwaya Foundation works to preserve a rare species, informs the public about the biology of C. mindorensis and contributes to its protection by creating reserves. In addition, research programs are being implemented in conjunction with the Kagayan Valley Environmental Protection and Development Program (CVPED). Dutch and Filipino students create an information database that collects information about the Philippine crocodile.
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The second name of the species is “Mindoren crocodile” - after the name of the island of Mindoro (Philippines).
The number is declining throughout the range. It used to be found throughout the Philippines. Today, the Philippine crocodile lives in the Philippines: on the islands of Buzuang, Jolo, Luzon, Masbat, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Samar.
Prefers fresh water, inhabits a variety of ponds, lakes, swamps. During migrations it can enter rivers, sometimes it also occurs on the coast.
This is a small crocodile: males do not grow more than 3 m, females are smaller. The muzzle is wide, the back is covered with a strong carapace of bone scutes. Outwardly very similar to the New Guinean crocodile. The color is brownish-gray with dark transverse stripes on the body and tail, which are especially distinct in young individuals.
He leads a nocturnal lifestyle, and sits in shelters during the day. The diet includes most aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians. Sometimes it preys on water birds, preys on small watering places for mammals.
The breeding season is confined to the rainy season. After mating, the female builds a nest of small size (1.5 m wide and 0.5 m high), in which it lays 7–20 eggs. The female protects the nest from predators throughout the entire incubation period (a little less than 3 months), helps the cubs get out of the eggs, but does not take further part in their fate. Mortality among young animals is very high, and only 1–2% of individuals become sexually mature.
The area of the Philippine crocodile coincides with the area of the numerous combed crocodile, for which the locals sometimes take the Philippine crocodile. Effective government programs to protect this species are not yet in place. Refers to protected species, listed in the IUCN Red List. In 1992, the population of the Philippine crocodile totaled about 1000 individuals. In 1995, only 100 adult individuals were reliably known. Young people were not taken into account when calculating, because their survival rate in nature is very low. Currently, the population is estimated at 200 individuals. It is on the verge of extinction due to the small range and negative attitude of local residents to them.
Central American Crocodile - Crocodylus moreletii
As in the case of the Australian crocodile Johnson, the Latin name is derived from the surname of the discoverer - the French naturalist P. M. A. Morele (1809–1892), who discovered this species in Mexico in 1850.
The species range is limited to Central America. It is found in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.
It lives in standing fresh water bodies - ponds, lakes, swamps, marshy lowlands, less often in rivers with a slow course. It is found in coastal waters. Young crocodiles hide from predators in dense vegetation. They don’t build a burrow; adults are waiting for the drought season, buried in silt at the bottom of drying reservoirs.
A Central American crocodile is a relatively small crocodile, usually reaching 3 m in length.The muzzle is wide and resembles the face of a caiman. The neck is reliably protected by bone shields. Young crocodiles are bright yellow with black stripes. Coloring of adults is grayish-brown with dark transverse stripes and spots throughout the body and tail. The iris is silver brown.
Young crocodiles feed on small fish and small invertebrates, which are found in the water and in the coastal zone. Adult diet also includes larger prey. They get fish, reptiles, eat large water snails. Favorite treats are silt turtles, whose shells they easily split with powerful jaws. Waiting for birds and mammals at watering places, attacking domestic animals, for which farmers really do not like them.
The breeding season is timed to the end of the drought season, and females have time to build nests before the rains. The nest is large (it is 3 m wide and 1 m high), most often located near water or on a floating island of vegetation. The number of eggs in the clutch is 20–40; incubation lasts an average of 80 days. Females guard the nest all the time of incubation and carefully listen to the voices of newborns, which make themselves felt, while still in the egg. Hearing the signal, the female rushes to help the cubs, breaks the nest and helps them free themselves from the shell. In water, young people are met by a happy father of the family. Unlike many other crocodiles, both parents care for the cubs of the Central American, they protect the offspring for the first 1-2 years.
Until the 1920s view C. moreletii not distinguished from species C. acutus and C. rhombifer, in connection with which there were many errors in the descriptions. Leather of this type is highly regarded among resellers due to the small number of bone plates and the relative ease of processing. But the decline in numbers as a result of hunting is not the only reason for the decrease in the number of species.
A serious disaster is the deforestation of tropical forests (in Mexico) and the construction of human settlements in the traditional habitats of crocodiles (in Belize). Species conservation activities are carried out by the Mexican Biosphere Reserve. The species abundance in Guatemala has not been established since the abundance restoration program has been working there relatively recently and monitoring work has not yet been completed.
This species of crocodiles is under protection, is listed in the Red Book of IUCN. The population is 10,000–20,000 individuals.
Colombian crocodile - Crocodylus intermedius
Other names for the species are Orinoc crocodile, or Venezuelan crocodile. Latin name "intermedius"Has a very interesting origin. Since this crocodile was described much later than the rest of the common species, for which certain systematic characters, which are considered classical, have already been fixed. Therefore, describing the Colombian crocodile, the taxonomists came to the conclusion that the shape of the muzzle of this species is intermediate between the V-shaped or wedge-shaped in all crocodiles and elongated parallel to the gavial. So the name was born "inter medius"- intermediate.
Colombian crocodile is limited in distribution by Colombia and Venezuela.
It lives in freshwater rivers (in the middle and lower regions of the Orinoco basin), in the savannahs of Llanos, which are flooded by spilled rivers during the rainy season. It is widely found throughout its range - in tropical evergreen forests, in springs near the foothills of the Andes. During the drought season, the water level in the rivers drops, and Colombian crocodiles leave the dry savannah, hiding in burrows located in depressions where water still remains. If temporary shelters also dry up, crocodiles wander in search of other havens, sometimes covering considerable distances. There are reports of crocodiles seen on Trinidad, an island located 150 miles north of Venezuela. It is believed that crocodiles go to sea during the rainy season when they are washed away by flooding or carried away on islands of vegetation. This indicates the tolerance of high concentration of salt water by crocodiles.
Relate to large crocodiles. Even 50 years ago, 7-meter individuals were not uncommon, but now 5 m is the maximum length of males. The muzzle of a Colombian crocodile is relatively long and narrow, its end slightly upturned. The keratinized scales on the back are arranged symmetrically and form a kind of rhombic pattern. The color is diverse, most often there are dark brown individuals.
The diet of the Colombian crocodile is quite diverse and includes a large number of aquatic vertebrates, as well as birds and mammals, which the predator catches at watering places. Young crocodiles feed on small fish and invertebrates. Individual cases of adult Colombian crocodile attacks on humans have been reported.
The breeding season is during the drought period. The female arranges nests on the sandy beaches, exposed as a result of a drop in water level, and premature rains can cause mass death of clutches. One female lays from 15 to 70 eggs, the incubation period is relatively short, and the cubs leave the eggs after 2 months. Usually the hatching time coincides with the beginning of the rainy season and the rise of the river level, so that the calves get to the water quickly. The Colombian crocodile has the longest period of care for the offspring - the female remains with a brood for 3 years.
The number of crocodiles is steadily declining as a result of uncontrolled hunting. Crocodiles are easy prey for poachers, because during the drought season, which coincides with the breeding time, they gather in large groups. In most of the range, they are almost extinct, and population growth is very slow. Some isolated populations in Venezuela, which are located in places inaccessible to humans, remain unchanged. And now uncontrolled production of crocodiles continues, young individuals go on sale.
This species is one of the rarest in the family, as its population is distributed over a small area. Included in the Red Book of IUCN. The size of the population, concentrated on a limited area, 250-1500 individuals.
Cuban crocodile - Crocodylus rhombifer
The range of this crocodile is the smallest in the family and is limited to the swamps of Cuba. It was previously widespread in the Cayman and Bahamas, from where it has now disappeared.
The Cuban crocodile belongs to medium-sized crocodiles and reaches 3.5 m in length. Females of Cuban crocodiles are smaller than males. The head is short and wide, with a bone crest behind the eyes. The scales on the back, on the neck and on the legs are large. In young crocodiles, the iris is light, but darkens with age. The crocodile has a characteristic yellow and black pattern on the skin, which is why it is sometimes called a pearl crocodile. The main background is darker at the head. The belly is light, dark streaks are absent. Crocodiles on crocodile farms have a slightly different color, as they are most often hybrids with Siamese or American crocodiles.
The main part of the diet of this type of crocodile is fish. Likes to enjoy water turtles, rarely catches small mammals. Young crocodiles feed on insects and small fish. Fossil remains indicate that Cuban crocodiles fed on gigantic slugs, now extinct, as a result of which they formed a special structure of teeth, which currently helps them easily split durable tortoise shells.
Cuban crocodiles are excellent swimmers, although they are able to move on the ground. For them, as for all reptiles, it is important to maintain the desired body temperature, since they are not able to generate heat in the process of metabolism. They spend some time on earth, basking in the sun, or in the warm waters of the shallows. This happens in the morning, when they are cooled in cool water, and after eating, when the metabolism raises the body temperature, they should cool.
Crocodiles often gather in large groups for hunting or feeding, relations between them are maintained in strict adherence to the hierarchy. The hierarchy in the group is established based on the size and temperament of the animals.
The breeding season is confined to the rainy season. It is quite prolonged and, starting in May, can last 3-4 months. Depending on the state of the shore, the female can build a nest or dig a hole. Clutch usually contains 30–40 eggs, the incubation period is relatively short, and crocodiles hatch in 7–9 weeks. The temperature inside the nest determines the sex of the embryos. Males hatch at a temperature of 30–32 ° C, females - at a temperature higher or lower. Adult females carefully guard the nest and accompany the cubs to ponds, where they nurture them during the first year of life. But still, mortality among young animals is very high, and only 1% of crocodiles reach maturity.
The main part of the population is concentrated in the Zapata swamp and comprises 3000–6000 animals living on an area of 300 km 2 in the southwestern part of the swamp. In the 1950s and 60s Crocodile farms, which were supposed to satisfy the industry's need for crocodile skin, became widespread. At this time, many hybrids were produced, which later it was decided to isolate from the main population.
Refers to endangered species, is listed in the Red Book of IUCN. The population that lives in the swamp of the West, as already mentioned, is estimated at 3000-6000 individuals. Thanks to protective measures, the population is gradually being replenished.
Nile crocodile - Crocodylus niloticus
A species with a huge range of distribution, including a significant part of the territory of Africa. In ancient times, lived on the territory of Egypt and Palestine, but today it does not occur below the second threshold on the Nile. Nile crocodile is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Chad, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Ivory Coast Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe. It was recently exterminated in Israel, and at the beginning of the XIX century. - in the Comoros. In addition, he now lives in Palestine, but only in one place (Crocodile River), and is very few.
It inhabits a variety of freshwater bodies - from large lakes to dry puddles. As a rule, a crocodile does not move away from the water, and only when its pond dries up, it rushes in search of a new home. Then it can be found at a distance of 100-150 km from the nearest body of water. Unlike other members of the family, it moves freely on land and is capable of developing significant speed.
Very large reptile, individual individuals reach a length of 6 m. Even at present, 5-meter individuals are quite common. In countries with cooler climates (South Africa), small individuals are found, on average 4 m long. On the territory of Mali and the Sahara Desert, dwarf Nile crocodiles live, the adults of which grow up to 2-3 m. Young crocodiles are dark olive and brown in color with a black cross-shaped pattern on the body and tail. In adults, the pattern fades and becomes paler.
In the community of crocodiles, a hierarchy is respected, large individuals dominate small breeds, driving them away from females and prey. Nile crocodile day consists of periods of rest, swimming on the river in search of victims and devouring prey. Before sunrise, they emerge from the water and dry out in the sun, keeping their mouth open, as dogs do during the heat. By noon, crocodiles return to the river to hunt. They feed frequently, although they can do without food for several days, sometimes a year or more. If the crocodile is not hungry, he simply swims along the perimeter of his site or rests on the shore. While relaxing on a convenient beach, dozens of large crocodiles can gather. The hierarchy is strictly observed, and all adult individuals lie at a respectful distance from each other, the most uncomfortable places are usually occupied by young individuals. With the onset of dusk, all islands and beaches become empty, at this time the hunt begins, continuing throughout the night and even in the morning.
Like a combed crocodile, its Nile congener has a wide variety of sound signals. They cry like a muffled moo during an anxiety, often such cries accompany mating tournaments. When the crocodile is angry, then a trumpet or a dull hissing sniff is heard. Young crocodiles, only recently hatched from an egg, make a peculiar croaking sound, reminiscent of funny frogs chattering.
The food of the Nile crocodile is very diverse, and the methods of hunting this large reptile also vary. Young crocodiles feed on small aquatic invertebrates - insects, and when they grow up, they switch to fish, amphibians and reptiles. Adults prey on large vertebrates - antelopes, buffaloes, less often - on young hippos and large cats, including lions, more often - on monkeys, hyenas, although the main part of the diet is still fish, turtles and small vertebrates.
The Nile crocodile, like its cousin, the combed crocodile, has a reputation as a cannibal, more people died from its teeth than from all other crocodiles. Together with lions and hippos, crocodiles share the dubious fame of human fighters, and several hundred people per year die from them (data that are hard to believe). Nile crocodiles attack livestock, and farmers shoot them with impunity.
Often crocodiles lie in wait for prey at a watering place, swim closer to the victim and wait at a distance of only a few meters from it. At this time, the whole body of the crocodile is under water, with the exception of the nostrils and eyes. Suddenly, a crocodile jumps out of the water and grabs its mouth in the victim's head, drags its prey to deep water and drowns it. At this time, he grabs the animal with its powerful jaws and twists it and turns it over until it snatches a piece of meat. Crocodiles are kept dead at the bottom of the river to make the meat softer. Sometimes crocodiles shove their prey under water into a crevice between stones or among the roots of trees, stones and trees hold prey when a crocodile tears pieces from it. Some crocodiles throw branches on the carcass so that it does not come up - this technique can be compared using primitive tools. In addition to fish, the crocodile is enough for all large and small mammals, who, through negligence, have come to the river for drinking, as well as swamp and water birds that they can catch.
He approaches the watering hole or the stand of his prey very carefully, completely immerses in water, swims quietly and silently and exposes only nostrils from the water for breathing. When attacking, he rushes ashore quickly, like lightning, and in a straightforward direction. A crocodile never dares to pursue land not caught in the water. He deceives the birds with his apparent calm, carelessness and stillness and pretends that he does not even think about their pursuit. Then, immediately rushing forward, it falls into their midst or first approaches them very slowly, centimeter by centimeter, and then, being at a sufficient distance from them, proceeds to attack.
A very interesting and tricky way of hunting flocks of small birds that swarm in the bushes on the river bank is described. These birds constantly feel their danger and run away, if possible, before the attack. The crocodile lies on the surface of the water so calmly and innocently, as if he got there by accident. Thus, he attracts the attention of birds and, noticing their attention, slowly swims away a considerable distance.
The birds, fooled by the deceiver, being convinced that the danger has passed, return to the bushes and continue drinking. Preoccupied with quenching thirst, they do not notice that their enemy has disappeared from the surface of the water.
The sudden splash, the appearance of a pair of strong jaws under the bush and the swallowing of several dozen victims are the result of the unexpected return of the crocodile. He insidiously disappeared into the water and returned under her cover. Crocodiles very often hunt in the aforementioned way - they cheat with a false retreat and then throw themselves out of the water.
When hunting a fish, a crocodile beats its tail in order to frighten it and stun it; it swallows a stunned fish. All crocodiles have a leathery growth at the back of the throat, which blocks the access of water to the respiratory organs when the animal is under water. This allows them to keep their mouth open underwater without the risk of drowning. Crocodiles swallow small stones that settle in their stomach and help grind food. According to some researchers, the stones in the stomach serve the crocodile as a ballast.
It is known that Nile crocodiles live in commonwealth with some species of birds that peck the remains of meat stuck between their teeth - this is recorded in Herodotus. Researchers found the carcasses of dead animals hidden in a shelter among stones and dense vegetation, which was considered evidence that crocodiles survive their prey in order to subsequently eat it. This hypothesis is not considered valid. Prey meat can become softer if kept under water, but the decaying meat is avoided by crocodiles, so they eat it quickly before it begins to rot.
Another interaction during the hunt is that several crocodiles surround a section of the river, driving fish into it. The fish is distributed depending on the location of the crocodile in the hierarchy, the main individual has the privilege of feeding first, then others follow. After a successful hunt, a group of crocodiles creeps out to land, moving several hundred meters from the place where the prey was torn before. Adult individuals catch fish, chasing it with their body and tail to the shore, and there they swallow it with a grip on their jaws. Despite the fact that many details of the social behavior of Nile crocodiles have been studied (in some cases, the estimate is too high), many of its aspects are still little known. The social position of the crocodile affects its share in the total production. Individuals of a lower rank receive a small share when they participate in a common hunt with crocodiles of a high rank.
During the mating season, which is dedicated to the end of the year, a strong revival is observed in the groups of Nile crocodiles. Males often roar, tournament fights are held, in which females choose the best. Mating takes place in water and is relatively short in time (1-2 minutes). About 2 months after mating, the female digs a hole on a sandy beach, where she lays from 40 to 60 eggs. Females often dig holes close to each other and together guard the territory. The reason for the death of clutches is most often the early rains that flood the burrows.
After laying eggs, females fill up burrows with rotting vegetation. Rotting armfuls of plant material in the nest maintain the temperature necessary for the development of embryos, and in addition, perfectly mask the nest from predators. The female spends the entire incubation period, which lasts 80–90 days (sometimes 70–100), near the nest, then she opens the nest and helps newborns get out of the egg. Newborns are transferred to water, while both male and female take care of the offspring. Interestingly, both parents contribute to the hatching process by widening the crack in the egg with the tongue.
Parents protect the cubs for the first 2 years of life, after which they decide that the cubs have become completely independent, and drive them away from their site. Groups of young crocodiles break up, and they wander alone along the shores of water bodies. At this time, it is better for them not to catch the eye of adults who can enjoy a bite with them. Crocodiles reach puberty by the age of 8-10 and then return to their native beach to find a place in the family.
Nile crocodiles live in large groups, which number from several tens to several hundred individuals, which depends on how favorable the conditions are. Despite the fact that they live in one place, they do not have group behavior, except when all the crocodiles gather around one large prey and eat it together, and there are no fights. During such collective revels, not a single crocodile is found within 3 km of the prey, i.e., they are all going to prey.
After the population of Nile crocodiles declined in the middle of the XX century. As a result of intensive hunting, some African countries have taken measures to protect this species, and the populations of these reptiles have sufficient numbers in Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The skin of the Nile crocodile is considered the best in quality, since it lacks bone scales (osteoderm). It is widely used in industry. Crocodile hunting is currently prohibited, but poachers still hunt them in huge numbers. The situation is aggravated by poorly organized educational activities. In many African countries, the local population ruthlessly destroys Nile crocodiles, considering them dangerous animals. In addition, crocodiles do not tolerate pollution, and now almost disappeared from many rivers.
Nile crocodile belongs to protected species: listed in the Red Book of IUCN. The population size is estimated at 250,000–500,000 individuals, recognized as stable, with the exception of a few isolated populations that are poorly studied. The countries of Central and West Africa have small populations of Nile crocodiles.