Dwarf Crocodile facts
The Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) is the smallest member of the crocodilian family, hence the dwarf which he brings in the name. He is also the most mysterious, very little is known about the habits and customs of this tiny creature of seemingly delicate appearance. They are a timid, and mainly nocturnal crocodile species.
They are relatively small sized when compared with their bigger brothers like the Nile crocodile or the Saltwater crocodile. They have a length of 1,5 meters (5 feet) on average, although specimens can be found that are slightly larger.
They live in rivers, swamps, lakes and wetlands in Sub-Saharan West Africa and West Central Africa, benefiting from the dense forest existing there to keep their body within the ideal temperature. Their territorial distribution in many cases overlaps with that of the slender-snouted crocodile and the Nile crocodile . Their longevity is estimated at more than 40 years.
There are 2 peculiarities attributed to them, one is that they intrude on land without hesitation, unlike other crocodilian species, the other is that they rely on their long legs to climb on branches near the water to warm up in the sun.
Dwarf Crocodile - Diet
In order to feed themselves they hunt fish, birds, small mammals, frogs and crustaceans, which they do with ease.
Dwarf Crocodile - Reproduction
These solitary animals only interact more closely in the mating season, which takes place in the beginning of the wet season, from May to June. The dwarf crocodile nests in mounds of vegetation near the water, and it relies on the heat generated by the rotting vegetation to incubate its very small clutch of eggs.
The female usually lays between 10 and 20 eggs, that take on average 90 and 110 days to incubate in a nest that she previously built, she watches over the nest and protects the young against predators for an indeterminate period of time. The young can fall prey to great number of predators (birds, fish,mammals and reptiles, including other crocodiles).
Dwarf Crocodile - Conservation status and major threats
Despite being in steep decline in some areas by interference that man has had in parts of the tropics, it is known that, overall there are good and healthy groups of these animals. It is, in this respect, they provide up to one quarter of meat consumed in some areas of Central Africa, but over hunting has raised the threat of extinction for some populations of these reptiles. As it is impossible do an accurate survey, its conservation status is considered vulnerable.
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