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Who's Who of Crocodilians


Crocodile Caves homepage

American Alligator  

American Alligator
Alligator mississippiensis

Diet: Insects, snakes, turtles, snails, slow-moving fish, small mammals and birds. Large adults may eat small calves and, very rarely, people.

Habitat: Marshes, swamps, rivers, lakes, tidal areas, and, rarely, the ocean

Distribution: Southeastern U.S.

Conservation: Narrowly escaped extinction thanks to strict laws prohibiting hunting, but habitat destruction now poses a considerable threat

Size: Up to 13 feet



Chinese Alligator  

Chinese Alligator
Alligator sinensis

Diet: Snails, clams, rats, and insects

Habitat: Marshlands, ponds, and lakes. They use caves or burrows, especially in the cold and dry months.

Distribution: The lower Yangtze River and its tributaries

Conservation: The world's most endangered crocodilian, due to habitat loss, wetland development, dam-building, and flooding

Size: Usually about 6.5 feet in length



Spectacled/common Caiman  

Spectacled/Common Caiman
Caiman crocodilus

Diet: Smaller caiman eat insects, crabs and other invertebrates; larger ones eat water snails and fish.

Habitat: Almost all natural open wetland and riverine habitats

Distribution: Southern Mexico to northern Argentina

Conservation: Population has diminished from serious hunting that began about 1950, but populations remain in good standing

Size: Up to eight feet



Broad-snouted Caiman  

Broad-snouted Caiman
Caiman latirostris

Diet: The young eat insects, crustaceans; adults eat snails, fish, mammals, and birds.

Habitat: Shallow freshwater swamps or sometimes cattle ponds and heavily polluted rivers near cities

Distribution: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay

Conservation: Hunting and habitat destruction threaten this species, whose skin is in high demand for tanning purposes.

Size: Males up to 10 feet, females to 6.5 feet



Yacare Caiman  

Yacare Caiman
Caiman yacare

Diet: Aquatic invertebrates, particularly snails, and vertebrates such as fish

Habitat: Wetlands, rivers and lakes

Distribution: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay

Conservation: Population low due to hunting

Size: Up to about 10 feet



Black  Caiman  

Black Caiman
Melanosuchus niger

Diet: Small caiman eat invertebrates and fish. Larger caiman eat mostly fish; the largest ones consume mammals, reptiles, even other caiman.

Habitat: Flooded forests around lakes and slow-moving rivers

Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru

Conservation: Population reduced by an estimated 99 percent in the last century. Illegal hunting and habitat destruction impede repopulation.

Size: The largest predator in South America, it can grow to over 20 feet.



Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman  

Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman
Paleosuchus palpebrosus

Diet: Invertebrates and fish

Habitat: Rivers, streams, and flooded forests around major lakes

Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela

Conservation: Since its skin is not in high demand, its population is stable, but habitat destruction and pollution pose threats.

Size: Males grow to about five feet, females to about four feet.



Smooth-fronted/Schneider's Dwarf Caiman  

Smooth-fronted/Schneider's Dwarf Caiman
Paleosuchus trigonatus

Diet: Mammals such as porcupines and pacas (a rodent)

Habitat: Mound nests along small rainforest streams

Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela

Conservation: Threats include habitat loss and pollution caused by gold mining.

Size: Males grow up to 5.5 feet, females to 4.5 feet.



American Crocodile  

American Crocodile
Crocodylus acutus

Diet: Hatchlings eat aquatic and terrestrial insects; juveniles live on fish, frogs, turtles, birds, small mammals, and aquatic invertebrates; adults consume larger mammals and birds as well as the food groups eaten by their young.

Habitat: Freshwater and brackish coastal waters

Distribution: Southern Florida, southern Central America, northernmost South America, and various Caribbean islands, including the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Margarita, Martinique, and Trinidad

Conservation: Threatened by hunting for their high-quality skin and by habitat destruction

Size: 20 feet or more



Slender-snouted Crocodile  

Slender-snouted Crocodile
Crocodylus cataphractus

Diet: Crabs, shrimps, snakes, frogs, fish

Habitat: Freshwater habitats, sometimes coastal areas

Distribution: West and central Africa

Conservation: Populations seem to be declining in many areas and may be extinct in Gambia, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Zambia.

Size: 10-13 feet



Orinoco Crocodile  

Orinoco Crocodile
Crocodylus intermedius

Diet: Fish, small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles

Habitat: Freshwater river habitats

Distribution: Colombia and Venezuela

Conservation: Intense illegal hunting and habitat loss pose the gravest threats.

Size: Up to 20 feet



Australian Freshwater/Johnston's Crocodile  

Australian Freshwater/Johnston's Crocodile
Crocodylus johnstoni

Diet: Fish, crustaceans, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals

Habitat: Upstream freshwater habitats

Distribution: Northern Australia

Conservation: Populations depleted by hunting have largely recovered, though its habitat continues to disappear.

Size: Up to 10 feet



Philippine Crocodile  

Philippine Crocodile
Crocodylus mindorensis

Diet: Aquatic invertebrates and small vertebrates

Habitat: Freshwater areas such as small lakes, swampy depressions, marshes, and tributaries of large rivers

Distribution: Philippine islands

Conservation: Once found throughout the Philippines, this species has a dangerously low population.

Size: Up to 10 feet



Morelet's Crocodile  

Morelet's Crocodile
Crocodylus moreletii

Diet: Snails, mud turtles, small mammals, catfish. Juveniles eat insects, snails, slugs, and other small animals.

Habitat: Mostly freshwater areas, sometimes brackish water around coastal areas

Distribution: Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico

Conservation: Hunters seeking their high-quality skin drastically depleted the population mid-century.

Size: 10-11.5 feet



Nile Crocodile  

Nile Crocodile
Crocodylus niloticus

Diet: Juveniles eat insects, spiders, frogs and probably snakes, lizards, and other small vertebrates; adults eat fish, antelope, zebra, warthogs, large domestic animals, and occasionally humans.

Habitat: Freshwater areas and some coastal habitats in Africa

Distribution: Tropical and southern Africa and Madagascar

Conservation: Legal protection has helped diminishing populations recover from hunting, but the species still suffers in central and western countries.

Size: Up to 16 feet

Croc bite: Displays a hierarchy of feeding order, with dominant crocs getting more, even during cooperative feeding



New Guinea Crocodile  

New Guinea Crocodile
Crocodylus novaeguineae

Diet: Insects, amphibians, snakes, birds, and fish

Habitat: Mainly freshwater habitats

Distribution: New Guinea

Conservation: Recently recovered from population depletion, today it benefits from low human population and large areas of wetland habitat.

Size: Up to 13 feet



Mugger/Marsh Crocodile  

Mugger/Marsh Crocodile
Crocodylus palustris

Diet: Juveniles eat insects and small vertebrates. Adults live on frogs, snakes, small mammals, and birds; the largest ones dine on deer and buffalo.

Habitat: Freshwater habitats

Distribution: Bangladesh, Iran, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Conservation: Threatened by habitat loss, with the Bangladesh and Myanmar populations possibly already extinct

Size: Reaching to over 13 feet



Estuarine/Saltwater/Indopacific Crocodile  

Estuarine/Saltwater/Indopacific Crocodile
Crocodylus porosus

Diet: Juveniles eat insects, crabs, shrimp, mudskippers, lizards, and snakes; adults dine on birds, fish, and mammals.

Habitat: Brackish and freshwater areas

Distribution: Most widely distributed of crocodilians, it lives throughout tropical regions of Asia and the Pacific.

Conservation: Its hide is the most valuable of any crocodile. Habitat loss and hunting imperil some populations.

Size: Largest crocodile, 23 feet or more. Some in captivity weigh up to 2,200 pounds.



Cuban Crocodile  

Cuban Crocodile
Crocodylus rhombifer

Diet: Fish, turtles, small mammals

Habitat: Freshwater swamps

Distribution: Cuba

Conservation: One of the most threatened New World crocodilian species, primarily because of its small distribution

Size: About 11.5 feet



Siamese  

Siamese Crocodile
Crocodylus siamensis

Diet: Mainly fish, but also amphibians, reptiles and perhaps small mammals

Habitat: Tropical freshwater lakes, rivers, and marshlands

Distribution: Southeast Asian tropical lowlands

Conservation: Possibly extinct in the wild

Size: No longer than 13 feet



Dwarf Crocodile  

Dwarf Crocodile
Osteolaemus tetraspis

Diet: Crabs, frogs, and fish

Habitat: Swamps and slow-moving freshwater in rain forests

Distribution: West and west-central Africa

Conservation: This widely distributed species is probably not threatened, though information on populations is scant.

Size: Reaches 6.5 feet



False Gharial/Gavial  

False Gharial/Gavial
Tomistoma schlegelii

Diet: Small vertebrates and fish

Habitat: Freshwater habitats, swamps, lakes, and rivers

Distribution: Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and possibly Sulawesi

Conservation: According to the few studies done, population is very low

Size: 13 feet or more



Gharial/Gavial  

Gharial/Gavial
Gavialis gangeticus

Diet: Fish (cannot eat large animals because its jaws are too slim)

Habitat: Calmer stretches of deep, fast-moving rivers

Distribution: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar

Conservation: Nearly extinct by the 1970s, it survives primarily in protected areas

Size: Up to 21 feet



Back to top




Secrets of the Crocodile Caves
Explore Ankarana

Explore Ankarana
Investigate this otherworldly landscape with a slide show and panoramas.

Legends of Madagascar

Legends of Madagascar
Many beliefs of the Malagasy may surprise Westerners.

Who's Who of Crocodilians

Who's Who of Crocodilians
Find out about the 23 species of crocodilians around the world.

Anatomy of a Croc

Anatomy of a Croc
Examine a Nile crocodile and see what makes this amazing reptile tick.



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