The American Crocodile

The American Crocodile
The American crocodile, belonging to the Crocodylus acutus species, lives in various areas located in America. Most specimens live in coastal waters of both Pacific and Atlantic oceans as well as some islands and even in a hyper saline lake called: "Lago Enriquillo", which is located in Dominican Republic. In the United States, the American crocodile can be found in Southern Florida, especially in the Everglades National Park, Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys. You can also find this type of crocodile spread in areas from Southern Mexico to Colombia and Ecuador. The American crocodile is also known to live in the coastal waters of the following islands: Jamaica, Caribbean islands and the Greater Antilles.

Data of their population is not supplied in most areas as it is not updated on a regular basis. The United States is the only country to update this information. The statistics show a population of approximately 2,000 individuals in the Southern Florida region.

The American is a large reptile displaying a longer and sharper snout than the American alligator. It also shows two sharp lower teeth when its mouth is closed. Its back is covered with a scaly hide and two rows of scutes going from back to tail. It also has a third eyelid called: "nictitating membranes". These full size eyelids are translucent and allow the crocodile some vision while protecting its eyes. They are a lighter color than American alligators, usually a shade of grey. The fact that their eyes, ears and nostrils are located on top of the American crocodile's head allows it to surprise its prey during an attack.

They usually crawl on their stomach but are also known to elevate their belly to walk faster on land. In water, they float and swim in rapid spurts up to 20 miles/hour (32 km/hour) due to their sinuous technique. On land, they soak up the sun. They can reach a speed of 10 miles/hour (16 km/hour).

The average size of an American crocodile is 15 feet (4.6 m), males usually reach a size of 13 feet (4 m) in Southern Florida while females are known to measure up to 9.8 feet (3 m). Males are larger than females in weight as well. Males can weigh an average of 840 lb (382 kg) while females reach up to 380 lb (173 kg).

This carnivore usually feeds on: insects, snails, crabs, turtles, fish, mammals, frogs, birds and occasionally on carrion (dead animals). Contrary to the popular belief, the American crocodile is not a man-eater. Although it has been known to attack humans when harassed or to defend itself, humans are their only predator as they have no natural one.

In Venezuela, there was a decade long ban protecting the American crocodile from hunting. This ban was put in place due to over hunting and depletion of the population of this species in the 1950's and 1960's. While several countries have protective laws in place, few actually enforce them, causing the American crocodile to be part of the Threatened Species' List.

The American crocodile is sensitive to cold climates, unlike the American alligator, which explains their absence in Northern regions. On the other hand, it tolerates salt water, contrary to the American alligator. This species natural habitat is mainly located in rivers' mouths, estuaries, in a hyper saline lake as well as brackish and coastal waters.

The life expectancy of the American crocodile, in the wilderness, can reach up to 70 years.

Rather than see the American crocodile as our enemy, it is important to protect this species to the full extent of the law, otherwise it will soon face extinction. Their extinction might make some people feel safer; despite the fact these creatures are not targeting humans as part of their diet. This would create havoc on the ecosystem. It is time that we put life ahead of profits by doing the "right" thing!

Here are some resources linked to the American crocodile.

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A Close View of an Endangered America...
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