African dwarf crocodile

African Dwarf Crocodile

Just like the name suggests, the African Dwarf Crocodile is a little on the small side. In fact, it’s the smallest crocodile in the world. But at an average length of around 1.6 metres, it’s still a feisty fellow with a ferocious snap!

The African Dwarf Crocodile is clever too - it can hold its breath underwater for up to an hour while it waits for the perfect moment to pounce on its prey. And while this jet black beast is timid, solitary and slow on land, it still boasts many of the powerful crocodilian features that have helped the species to become one of nature’s most efficient killers.

Fun facts!

  • African Dwarf Crocodiles are powerful swimmers
  • African Dwarf Crocodiles enjoy a varied diet and are not fussy eaters
  • African Dwarf Crocodiles are only found in West Africa

...more about the African Dwarf Crocodile

Despite the fact that they can be sluggish on land, African Dwarf Crocodiles are powerful swimmers. They are equipped with a hugely muscular tail that propels them through the water with great force. Their eyes are located high on their heads to help them see above the waterline while their bodies are submerged in water. They also feature a heavily armoured back and neck which helps to protect them from becoming lunch for would be predators. And then there’s those jaws, uniquely designed to clamp around their victim with devastating force. Snap!

The African Dwarf Crocodile’s diet is varied. It is an adept predator of both vertebrates and large invertebrates. It will happily eat the meat of dead animals on land when presented with the opportunity, though hunting usually occurs in or near the water.

The African Dwarf Crocodile, however, is an extremely resourceful predator, adapting both its diet and its hunting techniques to suit the season. During the wet season, the crocodile will generally stick to the water and take advantage of the abundance of fish. But during the dry season the crocodiles will reduce their intake of food, relying on alternative foods such as crustaceans to survive. It is also normal for the African Dwarf Crocodile to venture inland in search of dinner.

The ‘African’ part of this crocodile's name is a little misleading as it only found in West Africa. It is mainly nocturnal and spends much of the day in burrows that it builds for itself. These are always near bodies of water such as ponds, swamps or slow moving areas of rainforest rivers. The African Dwarf Crocodile is a solitary beast and usually found alone. It is rare to find more than two together at any one time.

The only time an African Dwarf Crocodile will interact closely with another is during infancy and the breeding season. Female crocodiles lay around 10 eggs in a ‘nest’. This nest is always built close to water and is made of decaying vegetation. As it decomposes, the vegetation emits heat which incubates the eggs and helps them to develop. This process lasts between 85 and 105 days.

At birth, an African Dwarf Crocodile will measure around 28cm in length. Juveniles have a brown banding on their body and tails and yellow patterns on their head. The female watches over the young making sure they don’t get gobbled up by birds of prey, predatory mammals or other crocodiles.

More about the African Dwarf Crocodile

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