The Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), native to parts of South-East Asia. The species can be found in several countries like Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. It is however critically endangered and possibly extinct or nearly extinct in several of them.
This is a rare and little known crocodilian compared to the more famous and numerous species like the Saltwater crocodile or American Alligator. There is the need to do more research and surveys to assess the species biology, ecology and conservation status in the wild.
The Siamese crocodile does prefer slow moving waters, such as lakes, swamps or sheltered parts of rivers and streams. The species tolerance to saltwater is unknown. The species is considered to be somewhat inoffensive and poses a low threat to humans when compared with other species present in this part of the world, such as the Saltwater crocodile.
The males of this species can reach a maximum length of about 4 meters (13 feet) but they will average about 3 meters (10 feet) long. Females are smaller than males. However hybridization of the species with Saltwater Crocodile occurs and hybrids can grow much larger than pure Siamese crocodiles.
The juveniles are golden tan with black stripes on their body and tail. As they grow older their color becomes darker. The species lifespan remain unknown.
The population found on the island of Borneo is considered by some to be a separate species. Crocodylus raninus has been suggested as the subspecies name however it remains as an unrecognized species until more data can be collected. Some recent genetic analysis suggests that the Borneo population probably is comprised of Saltwater crocodiles.
Siamese crocodile - Diet
The Siamese crocodile is mostly a fish eater but it can also catch reptiles and amphibians. This species fairly unknown but small mammals can also be part of their diet as well.
Siamese crocodile - Reproduction
The Siamese crocodile breeds in the wet season during the months of April and May. The female will build a mound nest in which she will deposit from 20 to 50 eggs. She will also guard the nest until the eggs hatch after roughly 80 days.
The mother will help by digging the young out of the nest and also carrying them to the water. It remains unknown if the species shows any parental care behavior after hatching.
Siamese crocodiles in captivity will reach sexual maturity at around 10 years of age , but we do not know if this is true in the wild as well.
Siamese crocodile - Conservation status and major threats
The total wild population of the Siamese crocodile species is estimated to be less than 5000 individuals. The Siamese crocodile species is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
In the 1990s the species was thought to be extinct or nearly extinct in the wild, however later surveys confirmed the existence of several small and scattered populations. Some of the largest populations for this crocodile can found in Laos and Myanmar and other small populations exist in Thailand, Vietnam and northern Cambodia. There are no recent records from Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia.
The main threats to the species comes from habitat destruction and also hunting, as their skin is highly valuable. Sustainable harvesting may be an incentive to the protection of habitats and therefore of the species, since the hides yields are high in the market.
Thousands of crocodiles are farmed in crocodile farms and bred in captivity, mainly in Cambodia and Thailand. Reintroductions programs are under way in Thailand to help preserve the species in the wild.
Siamese Crocodile - Name Etymology and common names
The word Crocodylus is derived from the Greek krokodeilos which means literally "pebble worm". Where kroko means pebble and deilos means worm, or man. This is a reference to the appearance of a crocodile. The word siamensis means “Crocodile of Siam” as Siam used to be the official name of Thailand until 1939.
They are also known by other names like Siamese freshwater crocodile, Soft-belly, Singapore small-grain, Crocodile du Siam, Cocodrilo de Siam, Buaja, Jara Kaenumchued, Buaya kodok.
Kids facts about crocodiles
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Alligator facts for kids
Did you know?
There only are 2 different species of alligators found in the world.