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Top 10 facts about African Nile Crocodile

One of the largest of all crocodilians, the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is a supremely adapted aquatic predator, with a streamlined body, a long, powerful tail, webbed hind feet, and long, powerful jaws, ideally suited for grabbing and holding onto prey. The eyes, ears and nostrils are located on top of the head, allowing the crocodile to lie low in the water, almost totally submerged and hidden from prey. A special valve at the back of the throat allows the mouth to be opened to catch and hold prey underwater without water entering the throat.

Some more important and amazing facts about the Nile Crocodile are as follows:

  1. The Nile crocodile is unlike a saltwater crocodile and possesses sensory pits in the scales along the side of the jaw, used to detect movement and vibrations in the water. Like all true crocodiles, the enlarged fourth tooth on the lower jaw is clearly visible when the mouth is closed, a feature which distinguishes this group from other crocodilians, such as salt water crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). The Nile crocodile is the most common crocodilian found in Africa today and may be found throughout much of the continent.
  1. The body of the adult Nile crocodile is a grey-olive color, with a yellowish belly, while the juvenile is more greenish or dark olive-brown, with black cross-banding on the tail and body, which becomes fainter in adult. In general, the male Nile crocodile grows larger than the female. A male Nile crocodile can grow up to a total length of 6 m and its hatchling length can be up to 31 cm.
  1. An average Nile crocodile shows a shift in diet with increasing body size. Young individuals usually feed on insects, small fish, amphibians and crustaceans, the diet changing to include more vertebrates, including fish, turtles, birds and mammals, as the individual matures. The largest Nile crocodiles are capable of taking prey up to the size of antelope, buffalo, zebras and wildebeest, dragging the prey into the water and spinning the body around to tear off chunks of flesh.
  1. Like other reptiles, the Nile crocodile controls its body temperature by entering the water when hot and basking in the sun when cool, and basking crocodiles are often a common sight along riverbanks. It may also dig dens, which it uses to retreat from adverse environmental conditions. The Nile crocodile has quick reflexes and is a surprisingly fast runner on land, though it may tire quickly.
  1. Breeding usually takes place during the dry season, though the exact timing varies with location. Mating takes place in the water. The nest is a hole, up to 50 centimeters deep, dug by the female into a sandy bank, several meters from the water. An amazing Nile Crocodile fact for kids is the female Nile crocodile is an attentive parent, and, after laying up to around 60 eggs, will cover the nest with sand and guard it for the entire Incubation period, around 90 days.
  1. Sex in the Nile crocodile is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated, with females produced below 31 degrees Celsius, and males at above 31 to 34 degrees Celsius. When about to hatch, the young make a “peeping” noise, which encourages the female to excavate the nest. The female then gathers the hatchlings in her mouth and transports them to the water, where they remain in a group for several months, protected by the female. Amazingly, the Nile crocodile’s powerful jaws can be used incredibly gently, and the female can even help hatchlings emerge by carefully rolling and squeezing the eggs in her mouth. However, despite this care and vigilance, nests may be raided by a variety of other animals, and hatchling crocodiles are very vulnerable to predation.
  1. Young female Nile crocodiles reach sexual maturity at a body size of around 2.6 meters, and males at 2.7 to 3.1 meters, achieved at around 12 to 15 years old. The Nile crocodile can be long-lived in the wild.
  2. The social behavior of the Nile crocodile is often underestimated. Males are territorial, patrolling and defending territories which may encompass a length of shoreline and extend up to 50 meters out into the water. Co-operative feeding behavior has also been reported. For example, several animals may cordon off an area of water to concentrate fish within it, and dominance hierarchies determine the order in which individuals feed.
  3. Ironically, exploitation for crocodile skins and meat has proved to be a valuable tool in Nile crocodile conservation, providing an incentive for people to protect the species and its habitat. Although listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning most international trade in this species is banned, it has been downgraded to Appendix II in a number of countries, allowing a certain level of commercial utilization and trade, mainly in the form of ranching. In this system, eggs or hatchlings are taken from the wild and reared in captivity. As well as providing an incentive to protect the wild population, this practice may even help boost Nile crocodile numbers as it improves the survival rate of the young, a proportion of which may be returned to the wild. These sustainable-use initiatives are also thought to be responsible for the lack of illegal trade in this species.
  4. As a result of successful management in many areas, the Nile crocodile is still widely distributed and generally has healthy populations. It also occurs in a number of protected areas, such as Lake Turkana National Park in Kenyaand Samangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa, where the population of Nile crocodiles is one of the largest in Africa.

 Conclusion :

The Nile crocodile is one of the most dangerous species of crocodile and is responsible for hundreds of human deaths every year. It is a rather common species of crocodile and is not endangered despite some regional declines or extinctions. Therefore these above important facts about African Nile Crocodile make us enough literate to preserve them in their own natural habitat.

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