The East African Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus afrocanus) is the largest freshwater predator in Africa, and the second largest reptile in the world, second to the Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).
The East African Nile Crocodile is dark brown with faded blackish spots and stripes across its back, with a dirty-yellow belly. The colour darkens with age. It has four short legs, a long powerful tail, and a long snout with sharp teeth. They have thick scaly skin.
It has green eyes. Its nostrils, eyes and ears are on the top of the head, so that they can be seen out of the water when the rest of the body is underwater.
The East African Nile Crocodile has 64-68 sharp, pointy, cone-shaped teeth. It it loses a tooth, it can be replaced. On each side of the mouth, there are five teeth in the front of the upper jaw (premaxilla), 13 or 14 in the rest of the upper jaw (maxilla), and 14 or 15 on either side of the lower jaw (mandible).
The enlarged 4th lower tooth fits into a notch on the upper jaw and is visible when the jaws are closed. The strength (bite force) of the crocodile is extremely strong. It is an opportunistic apex predator, eating anything within its range, such as fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals (including humans). They do not need to feed every day.
The East African Nile Crocodile is common in freshwater rivers, swamps, lakes and marshlands. It does not like saltwater.
It can grow to 3.5 and 5 metres (11-16 feet) in length and is extremely heavy.
Female Nile crocodiles lay eggs when they are about 12-16 years old. They lay 25-80 eggs on sandy ground or riverbanks. Females dig a small hole to lay her eggs and then covers them with sand, and guards them for three months until they hatch. They never leave the nest, even if they are in danger.
The East African Nile Crocodile has temperature-dependent sex determination. In other words, if the temperature of the nest is below 31.7 °C (89.1 °F), or above 34.5 °C (94.1 °F), the babies will be female. Males will be born if the temperature is within that range. The hatchlings make a high-pitched chirping noise before hatching, which is the signal for the mother to dig open the nest.
Hatchling Nile crocodiles are between 280-300 mm (11-12 inches) long at first and grow approximately that length each year. The mother will protect her offspring for up to two years. At the end of the two years, the hatchlings are about 1.2 metres (4 feeet) long, and will leave the nest.
They can live up to 70 to 100 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM