The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is present on the west coast and in southern Mexico, on the coast of Florida, Central America (Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti) and the north of the South American Continent (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela). American crocodiles are much more susceptible to lower temperatures than the American alligator, this is the main reason they aren't more widespread in the southern US.
It's range overlaps with other family members, like the Cuban Crocodile (crocodylus rhombifer) or Morelet's crocodile (crocodylus moreletii).
It is the largest reptile in the Americas, an adult male may reach up to 6 meters in length, although there have been unconfirmed reports of individuals seven meters long. They can weigh up to 800 Kg, but on average these animals measure just over 5 meters and weight in 500 Kg.
Their bite force is impressive, with over 1300 kg of pressure, which places it in the group of animals with the strongest bite force on the planet, being that the strongest, is the saltwater crocodile with about 2500 kg. Adults are of on an olive brown color while Juveniles color is lighter (light tan) than the more mature crocodiles, with some banding on their body and tail.
Capable of to colonize all types of water (fresh, brackish and saltwater) it has a narrow snout, with the crocodiles typical protruding teeth even with the mouth closed. They are commonly found in coastal habitats, wetlands and mangroves. These areas are characterized by being deep, having a low wave action and their salinity is intermediate.
American crocodile - Diet
The offspring and juvenile feed on invertebrates and small fish, but in adulthood, their diet consists of all kinds of mammals, birds, amphibians and fish, reported on occasion to attack humans and is often blamed for the disappearance of domestic animals in more populated areas.
American crocodile - Reproduction
In this species females will reach sexual maturity at a length of about 2.5 m. American crocodiles normally build hole nests, but if there aren't suitable sites to do so, they will build mound nests using whatever nest building materials are available.
The female usually lay some three dozen eggs (usually between 30 to 60), deposited in nests dug into the ground or constructed from plant material. In some cases nests can contain eggs from two different females. The incubation is extended for a period of 3 months with the hatching coinciding with the beginning of the rainy season.
American crocodile - Conservation status and major threats
Between the decades of 1930 and 1960 this crocodile species was hunted for their Skin, which was a very popular material to make bags belts and other crocodile leather products. It is estimated that its population numbers in the wild are between 500 and 1200 individuals in South Florida and 1000 to 2000 in Mexico, Central and South America.
Now the greatest threat to wild populations is habitat loss as a result of the increase in populated areas. Poaching and accidents with boats or cars also kill some specimens. The species is included in Appendix I of CITES except in Cuba where he is in Appendix II.
The American crocodile is fully protected in most countries of its range, but conservation efforts are insufficient, since it is known that some legal caiman hunters are also crocodile poachers. Management programs exist in eight countries, although often not carried out.
The crocodile farms could provide individuals to reintroduce in the wild, for example, in Venezuela there is much suitable habitat and would benefit from this measure. The National Geographic host Dr. Brady Barr is involved in one of the conservation programs run in Costa Rica.
Crocodiles facts for kids
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Where are crocodiles found
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Did you know?
Crocodiles like the extinct dinosaurs live on the planet Earth for 240 million years.