Around 240 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, the earth looked pretty different. It was a time when dinosaurs roamed freely and crocodiles coexisted alongside them. In fact, crocodiles are one of the only animals that are thought to have survived the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaur population. They survived the mass extinction and thrived for hundreds of millions of years to come. Therefore, it’s safe to say, their history on earth is a long and mysterious one!
They’re the large aquatic reptiles made famous by revered Australian legends like Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan, and the legendary Steve Irwin, but here are 10 interesting facts you may not know about the carnivorous creature that is the crocodile.
1. Did you know that there are 23 different species of crocodile that live on this planet? However, Australia is home to just two species – the freshwater crocodile (which is found nowhere else in the world) and also the estuarine crocodile. Despite their names, both of these species can live in fresh or salt water. Other species can be found in the tropics throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas.
2. Crocodiles are quite a versatile reptile which means they can live in a variety of environments. Some of these may include lakes, rivers, freshwater bodies, salt water and brackish water (a combination of salt and freshwater).
3. Like most reptiles, crocodiles are cold-blooded animals and prefer to take up residence in tropical areas close to wetlands. They cannot generate heat on their own, therefore they go into a period of long sleep (or aestivation, a similar state to hibernation) until the weather heats up again.
4. Although they have since been replaced by humans, crocodiles were once at the top of the food chain. Of course, we’re talking a long time ago – approximately 100 million years ago – during the Mesozoic Era.
5. The crocodile jaw is a thing of supreme power and force. Although the muscles in their jaw are quite weak and incredibly sensitive to touch, they have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom. For example, did you know that the saltwater crocodile has a bite nearly three times the forces of a lion or tiger? Impressive, right?
6. Perhaps one of the most fascinating facts about the crocodile species is in regard to their breeding. When a female crocodile lays eggs (of which there can be up to 60 at a time), the temperature of the nest where the eggs are laid actually determines the sex of the baby. If the temperature is less than 32 degrees Celsius, the baby crocodiles will be female and if it’s above that temperature, they will be male.
7. Ever heard the term ‘crocodile tears’? There’s an age-old myth that crocodiles cry when devouring their prey. And while technically crocodiles have glands that can produce tears, it’s not actually considered crying. Whilst eating, the crocodile swallows too much air which impacts with the lachrymal gland and forces tears to flow.
8. Here’s something that may surprise you: crocodiles actually eat without chewing. Their jaw operates in such a way that it cannot move sideways, therefore they can’t grind down on food in a traditional chewing motion. They will then swallow stones to help them digest and break down the food inside their stomach.
9. Speaking of food, the diet amongst crocodiles differs greatly depending on whether they are confined or not. In captivity, the large reptile will usually eat already killed animals such as mice, fish, rats, etc. However, crocodiles in the wild will usually go for crustaceans, frogs, birds, deer, etc. Although, we’re pretty sure anything is fair game for a crocodile in the wild…
10. Even though the colossal crocodile has been known to survive the dinosaur period and species-ending asteroids, contrary to popular opinion, they are not immortal. Most crocodile species have a lifespan of approximately 40 years, however, large species like the saltwater and Nile crocodile have been known to live up to 80 – 100 years.
If you know someone who is obsessed with crocodiles or you have a budding adventurer in your family, pop into your local Stockland Shopping Centre for all the best crocodile themed products.
Best&Less Baby Bonds Leggings $15, Big W Caribee Adventure Binoculars $15, Big W Dymples Cotton Coveralls $6, Cotton On Kids Orson Tank $14.99, Cotton On Rubi Blaze Backpack $39.95, Kmart Quilted Hood Puffer Jacket $17, Target Laddy Junior Novelty Slipper Boots $15
Australia Post Thomson UHF Two Way Radio $32.99, Big W Snapping Crocodile $7, Big W The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl $10, Big W Zuru Robo Alive Junior Crocodile $15, Donut King Crocodile Novelty Donut POA, JB Hi-Fi Joe and Jack Crocodile Catchers DVD POA, Kmart Long Plush Crocodile Pet Toy $9, Kmart My Big Book of Australian Animals $6, Woolworths Balloons Round 30cm 12 pack $2
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