1. Crocodiles are different from alligators
What’s the difference between a crocodile and an alligator? Well, a few things! Firstly, they are two different species from the same family; crocodilia. They differ in size, colour and snout shape. Crocodiles tend to be larger and more aggressive than alligators, who are smaller, darker, and have a u-shaped snout (unlike crocodiles who have a v-shaped snout). So if you come across something scaly in the swamp, you’d better hope its an alligator!
2. They can grow up to 6m long!
Yes, the longest recorded crocodile was 6.17m long – that’s just over 20 feet long, or half the length of a bus! On the other hand, the smallest crocodile, the dwarf crocodile, is just 1.5m long. Which is still long enough that you wouldn’t want to meet it on a dark night!
3. Crocodiles don’t sweat!
Spare a thought for crocodiles in hot countries and humid swamps, because they can’t sweat! Instead, they cool themselves down by releasing heat through their mouths! This is why you’ll often see crocodiles with their mouths wide open! They sometimes even sleep like that!
4. They aren’t good runners
Crocodiles are very fast swimmers, but they’re not so good on land. Although they CAN run up to 20mph, much faster than a human, they don’t actually tend to run for very long if they do. They get easily tired out, and aren’t really designed to be on dry land, so yes, if you see one running towards you, watch out, but the truth is the croc will probably tire out before it gets to you!
5. They can go a long time without eating anything
Some species of crocodiles don’t need to eat very often. In fact, the bigger ones can actually last a YEAR without eating anything! This is because, when they’re not hunting, crocodiles don’t really use up a lot of energy. In some extreme cases, they can last THREE YEARS without a bite to eat! How long can you last without a snack? We can do about an hour!
6. They are famous for their ‘death rolls’
A ‘death roll’ is the action a crocodile uses when attacking prey. It’s a grisly move where the croc grabs its prey and rolls over in the water and drowns its victim! Scary! But you don’t need to worry about that unless you live in the River Nile!
7. Crocodile tears are a real thing!
Sort of! The expression ‘crocodile tears’ means to pretend to cry, or cry about something you’re not really sad about, and it comes from the fact that crocodiles appear to cry while they’re eating their prey. However, they’re not ACTUALLY crying. Instead, their bodies are releasing excess fluids through their tear ducts. Gross, but fascinating!
8. They live all over the world
You can find crocodiles all over the world, including in Africa, Asia, North and South America and Australia. That’s almost everywhere except the poles! This is because, as cold-blooded animals, they can’t generate their own body heat, and therefore need to live in warm regions. There is also a difference between fresh water crocodiles, who live in rivers and lakes, and salt water crocodiles, who live on the coast.
9. They’ve been around for a long time
A VERY long time, in fact. Although we have evidence, including artwork, that shows that crocodiles were around in ancient Egypt, they’re actually much, much older than any human population. We’re talking 200 MILLION years! And they haven’t really changed in that time! Well, if it aint broke!
10. They have VERY strong jaws… and very weak jaws
Crocodile jaws have a ‘bite down’ power of 5,000 of pressure – that’s twice the stregnth of a great white shark! But they’re also very weak! Their jaw opening muscles are much weaker, and you can in fact hold a crocodile’s jaw shut with just your hand. Scientists have been known to do this. We REALLY don’t advise it though, this is a move for experts only!
11. They can’t chew their food
Yup, they can’t! They’re powerful jaws can only move in an up and down motion, which means they often swallow their prey whole, or without grinding it down! Instead of chewing, crocodiles will often swallow small stones to help break up food in their stomachs. Well, that’s one way to do it!
12. The temperature can affect their eggs
Like many other reptiles, temperature can have an incredible affect on crocodile eggs. If the eggs are kept in a nest above a certain temperature (about 32 degrees Celsius) then they’ll hatch as male, but if they’re kept cooler than that, they’ll hatch as female! They also lay up to 60 eggs at a time – that’s a lot of crocodiles!