Movies have a knack for portraying crocodiles as nasty and cruel. But crocodiles are not just about looking vicious and gobbling everything down their sharp teeth. They also have some unique things about them. But of course, that doesn’t change the fact that crocodiles are very aggressive by nature and can inflict serious harm. So it’s best to stay away from them.
Crocodiles are the biggest reptiles on earth. And like any other reptiles, they have scales, are cold-blooded, and have a backbone.
Fun fact: Crocodiles have been living on earth since the time of dinosaurs. They are sometimes referred to as “living fossils” because they have been around for millions of years. They are old. Very very old.
Let’s head onto our list of interesting facts to know more about crocodiles.
Crocodiles don’t sweat
No sweat, no smell. That’s how it usually goes. But do you know that sweating has its own perks? Yes, it absolutely does. Sweating helps the body cool down. But crocodiles do not have sweat glands. That means they do not sweat. So how do they keep their cool? Good question.
Crocodiles are cold-blooded animals. Their bodies do not produce natural body heat. Yet they prefer to keep their body temperature between 30 – 33 degrees. And they regulate this body temperature by changing their environment. If it is cold, they move to the warm banks, and if it is hot, they take a dip in the water.
Another easier way to regulate body temperature is to keep their mouth wide open to release heat through their mouths. It’s that easy for the crocodiles to keep their cool!
Crocodiles can swim up to 18 mph
Crocodiles are amazing swimmers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the fact that they can live quite well on land as well as inside water.
Crocodiles are fast swimmers with a good speed of 15-18 mph. This is three times the swimming capacity of the fastest human swimmer. And that’s so very incredible. Isn’t it?
Crocodiles can hold their breath underwater for an hour
Try holding your own breath underwater. You might not be able to hold your breath even for a minute. But crocodiles can. And they can sometimes hold their breath underwater for more than an hour. Isn’t it just so breathtakingly amazing?
While underwater, they slow down their metabolism. The heart rate falls to 2-3 beats per minute, further decreasing cellular respiration and saving up energy. This reduced metabolism also demands less oxygen supply. This way, they easily keep themselves underwater without taking a breath.
Crocodiles swallow stones
Though we have seen animals eating and surviving on so many different things, we are learning of someone swallowing stones for the very first time. No? And of course, it does sound very strange, but it’s still so unique!.
Swallowing stones, also called “gastroliths,” especially helps a crocodile with their digestion. We are sufficiently aware of the quite big size of crocodiles, so it isn’t a big surprise that they also consume huge food. But whenever they do eat some tough animals or swallow them whole, they need a supplementary stone to grind their food down.
Apparently, this helps in their digestion. But a “gastrolith” itself can remain inside their stomachs for years. And we can’t quite imagine what could happen with a stone in the stomach.
Crocodiles can replace over 6000 teeth in a lifetime
Crocodiles’ teeth look quite sharp and threatening. And we wouldn’t want ourselves falling prey to their teeth for sure.
A baby crocodile starts with 20 teeth which are then replaced with 32 adult teeth. But different species can have different numbers of teeth. Many crocodiles have 60 to 110 teeth.
When a crocodile loses a tooth, another tooth is always on the standby to replace it. Long story short, crocodiles go through many teeth loss and replacement. Adding up the numbers to a total of 6000 teeth used in a lifetime. That’s quite a huge number!
The sharp teeth of crocodiles are never used for chewing purposes
A crocodile’s snout, with its numerous teeth, is probably the most dangerous thing about a crocodile. Out of the abundance of many teeth, 24 are particularly sharp and violent. A crocodile uses these teeth to grasp and crush their prey, but it is never used for simple chewing purposes.
Crocodiles do shed tears
You would have long heard of the expression “crocodile tears.” It is used to specifically refer to the insincere display of sorrow. So, do you know how this expression came about? Let’s check out the fact then.
It is observed that crocodiles shed tears while eating their prey. Of course, it’s not with remorse. Maybe that’s why it is accused of being insincere? The exact reason behind their tears is still unclear. But scientists believe that it has something to do with the hisses and huffs they make while eating. Apparently, these hisses activate their tear glands and make them tear up.
Crocodiles have a very sharp senses
Crocodiles are known to employ deceitful tricks to catch hold of their prey. A laid-back crocodile submerged in the water is often mistaken for a log of wood by the prey. And they fall right into the trap.
They are patient hunters. But what adds to their patience is their very sharp senses. They are night hunters. Their sharp vision adds to their advantage, and they can run amok at the slightest stir of a random prey. Nothing can evade the eyes and ears of a crocodile.
Crocodiles carry their newborns in their mouths
Now, this will be the gentlest thing you are ever going to learn about crocodiles. Despite their large bodies and aggressive looks, they can turn out to be a great parent.
Like other reptiles, crocodiles also lay their eggs and bury them safely in a riverside nest. They vigilantly watch over their eggs until they hatch themselves out and then carry them back into the water with the greatest care. And that too inside their mouths.
The mother keeps her mouth open while the baby is inside its mouth, preventing them from clamping down on the baby with their strong teeth and jaws. As a result, the baby can feel quite at home inside its mother’s dangerous mouth. This sounds cute. Do look up some relevant pictures to feast your eyes!
Crocodiles have webbed feet
These webbed feet of a crocodile do not specifically help them propel themselves forward while swimming. But it does make them initiate swimming and steer their directions. These feet can also come in handy while trailing through a shallow water body.
The gender of a crocodile egg is determined by the temperature of the egg
Well, this should be a very common fact for all the science enthusiasts out there. But it should make quite an impact for a newbie learning about it for the first time!
Simply put, an egg incubated at a higher temperature of 34 degrees will usually produce a male crocodile, and a lower temperature of 30 degrees will result in a female crocodile, reports a scientific journal published under The Royal Society Publishing.
Dinosaurs and crocodiles are relatives
For starters, both dinosaurs and crocodiles were a part of the ‘Archosaurs’ group of reptiles. The first ancestors of crocodiles existed around 240 million years ago, around the time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Their species have undergone very little change, and therefore, they are the only living animals who share the closest resemblance with the extinct dinosaurs.
Crocodiles can also eat large animals
This fact shouldn’t stir a huge surprise considering the bawdy and aggressive look of a crocodile itself. But wait, there is still some room for surprise. How will you react if someone tells you that crocodiles can, in fact, eat small elephants, hippos, buffaloes, and zebras? Wonderfully surprising or dangerously surprising?
Though freshwater crocodiles mostly survive on fish, some large species of crocodiles can grab their hands on huge prey. This is no huge task for them!
Crocodiles have the strongest bite of all animals
Now, this fact can get our blood running cold. We can already imagine the cruelty of a crocodile bite by simply looking at their sharp teeth. No statistic needs to convince us of this quite obvious fact. But still, for the sake of our own knowledge, let’s get a quick look at the statistics.
The Nile Crocodile has a bite force of 5000 psi, and they often swallow their prey as a whole after crushing them down. This majestic bite force makes a crocodile’s bite stands first in the list of the strongest bite of all animals. Their bites are 30 times more powerful than a human’s bite. We cannot sympathize enough with a crocodile’s prey.
Crocodiles have a very acidic stomach
Do you know that our stomachs also produce acid? And that acid helps in digestion? But of course, nothing can match a crocodile’s level of stomach acid. Their stomachs are extremely acidic!
We all know that crocodiles can eat everything that has blood and flesh in it. And even bones. In fact, the extra acid of a crocodile helps them digest just that. The thick skin and bones of another large animal. Nothing can keep them from having a sumptuous meal.
Crocodiles and Alligators are different
Crocodiles and alligators are often confused with each other. Due to being closely related, they share some close resemblances, but there are some distinct ways to tell them apart.
A crocodile’s teeth are visible even when its mouth is closed shut. Whereas an alligator’s mouth tightly closes itself to its teeth. A crocodile has a pointed V-shaped mouth, and an alligator’s mouth is bluntly U-shaped.
Crocodiles can sleep with one eye open
Sleeping with one eye open? Does that even count as sleeping at all? For crocodiles, it does. They literally sleep with one eye open!
A recent study has proved that crocodiles sleep with one eye open, which means that their brains work in parts. While the first half is asleep, the second half is awake and vigilant. So the crocodiles are on a constant lookout for movements from their prey and possible threat. Only a handful of animals like Blackbirds and Dolphins are known to perform this kind of amazing marvel.
Crocodiles have a high infant mortality rate
Even with all of mama crocodiles’ love and care, baby crocodiles still face many survival threats in their first year of life. Reports state that 90% of these baby crocodiles die in their first year of life. They are either eaten by other predators like large crocodiles, hyenas, and lizards, or their eggs get consumed by humans.
Larger crocodiles can go on without eating for a year
We cannot possibly imagine ourselves surviving on an empty stomach for more than a day, but we are talking about a year here. A literal 365 days-year! And a crocodile can beat even that.
Crocodiles have got some of the best survival tactics up their sleeves. Their body metabolism is specially designed to store almost the whole of the food that they consume. This way, they are quite able to survive by relying on this stored fat and by minimizing their normal bodily processes. Larger crocodiles can even survive on their own, without food for almost over a year.
There are 24 different species of crocodiles in the world
Crocodiles are very old. They evolved around 80 million years ago, and there are currently 24 different species of crocodiles inhabiting the earth.
The Saltwater Crocodile is the largest of all living crocodiles, with an average size of 17 feet and 1000 pounds. At the other end of the scale, Dwarf Crocodile is the smallest crocodile, with a small size of 5.9 feet and 60-70 pounds. Orinoco, Philippine, Cuban, and Siamese crocodiles are the four species of crocodiles facing the three of getting endangered.
Crocodiles have a complex heart
A crocodile’s heart changes its behavior according to their surrounding. If it is on the land, its actual four-chambered heart will act like any other normal mammalian heart. But when in water, the four-chambered heart will turn into a three-chambered heart like other reptiles to ease their activity underwater. It also helps them stay underwater for a longer period.
Crocodiles are known to kill humans
We have seen and known this from our daily dose of TV shows and news programs. Wikipedia reports that hundreds of people lose their lives to crocodile attacks in Africa. These attacks are so regular and normalized that sometimes they don’t even make it to the local news.
Learned enough. Didn’t we? We are sure you must have never thought of fishing out this much detail from a quick fact overview, nor would you have assumed that crocodiles could have such a unique appeal. Right? But life is all about learning and understanding the different things around us. Learning introduces you to cool new things, and you should never stop learning. And while you are at it, you should also continue your hunt for more such facts and figures.