The American Crocodile

The American Crocodile The American crocodile is a very unique animal. It is mostly found in many parts of the United States, but this species of crocodile lives in the Florida Everglades. The America crocodile’s scientific name is a very complicated and confusing name. Its scientific name is Crocodylus acutus. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS The American crocodile is a large reptile with a long, cigar-shaped body, short legs, and a powerful tail and deadly jaws.

Its heart has four chambers, preventing an admixture of venous and arterial blood. Their keen senses are very well developed and exact. Its pointed snout and long, partially exposed sharp teeth help distinguish it from its close relative, the alligator. The crocodile’s eyes and nostrils are higher than the rest of its head. Even though crocodiles are aquatic, their arms and legs are of a greater use in walking on the land than in the water.

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Their tails are very important to them in many ways. One way is they use their tails for swimming, courtship, and sometimes in capturing their prey. The crocodile is also very different from its cousin, the alligator. As I said earlier, the crocodile has as more of a pointed snout and the alligator has a more rounded snout. The American crocodile is dimorphic, meaning you can tell the difference between the ma! le and female. The way you can tell is by the size; the male is a bit larger than the female.

The crocodile babies are distinctly greenish with black markings on its body. The young adults are an olive green, while the oldest crocodile is a very dull gray. The crocodile spends a considerable amount of time in the water, swimming and hunting. Although the crocodile is not considered a marine or oceanic animal, it has actually been sighted far out at sea and has traveled many miles to reach isolated volcanic islands. CHARACTERISTICS EXAMPLES HABITAT The crocodile lives in an underground hollow, large burrows, or in sand dunes.

If the female crocodile is ready to lay her eggs but has no place to bury them, she will find an empty one; she will take it over as her own. HABITATION AREA AND CONDITIONS The map above shows the areas in which the American Crocodile can be found. The picture above is a graphic representation of the Florida Everglades, and area where the American Crocodile can be found. FOOD CHAIN The American is both a predator and prey. It is a predator because it eats animals smaller than it is and will almost eat anything.

It is prey because humans are hunting them and eating the meat off of them. Their place in the food chain is: HUMAN CROCODILE FISH INSECTS PLANTS SUNLIGHT The crocodile eats many things such as fish, tadpoles, tarpon, and frogs. When it is ready to hunt for food, the crocodile will usually camouflage itself by swimming very silent in the water, swim under the water silently, or they sneak up on the prey and snap it into its jaws. Since the crocodile is unable to digest bones and cartilage, it has to snap to prey onto the water to breaks all its bones. It also must be careful where to bite in case of cartilage or bone. SPECIAL TRAITS Something that I think is very unique about the crocodile is that it can swim silently without anyone knowing.

When responding to an attack threat it growls and makes a hissing noise to say that it is prepared to fight. The crocodile doesn’t migrate; it stays in one place year round. The crocodile have a language all to themselves. It communicates by making noises to identify each other. The crocodile lives in packs and usually hunt in packs too. Their natural enemies are humans; we are enemies because we kill them for their skin to make accessories. MATING AND COURTSHIP When a crocodile is ready to mate, the female tries to a strong male’s attention through visual, tactile, olfactory, and audible signs.

The female initiates the courtship display, but must also let the male know she has entered his territory for a reason. The female exposes her throat by lifting her head in a peaceful intent. The male and female nuzzle their heads together and the courtship begins. When the male is ready to mate, he makes the water “dance” which attracts a female miles away. The female lays a clutch of 40 eggs, of which only a few survive to become adults. The baby’s measure approximately 24 centimeters.

The female stands guard over her nest and sometimes the male will also help. Gestation usually takes three months. When the babies are ready to emerge, they will cry and yell out to their mother. She will dig a hole into the burrow and pull the eggs out. When the eggs come out into the air, the babies hatch themselves.

The temperature determines the! baby’s sex. 90 degrees is a male and 70 degrees is a female. When an enemy is too close to the nest, the female will growl and hiss at it and drive it away. CONSERVATION Decline in numbers can be credited to demand for the high-quality skin. Continuing hunting, although on a lesser scale, combined with habitat destruction are the most recent threats. It has been reported that the collecting of large numbers of mature adults for farm stocks could affect the breeding structures of small populations if not monitored. Although information on population and behavioral ecology is well documented, little survey data is available. Current studies will hopefully improve this situation.

Presently, it appears that the species is depleted to a significant extent over most of its range, particularly so over almost a third of the crocodile is completely protected in most countries where it occurs, but the enforcement of this protection is often inadequate. In addition, it can be difficult to identify other species, enforcement more difficult. Other measures include farming and ranching in a small number of countries. This is likely to expand (e.g. Colombia, Jamaica), although the status of wild populations from which stock would no-doubt be taken must be carefully monitored, once basic survey data has been compiled. A percentage of farmed stock is incorporated into a reintroduction program (this strategy is necessary in Cuba the recovery of wild populations, as farming has been successful).

In oth! er areas Venezuela), much crocodile habitat exists, but there are few crocodiles remaining. Restocking program would help to ensure the continued survival of these populations. The US, the Fish and Wildlife service formulated a recovery plan in 1984 for this centering around habitat protection and management, regular population surveys, reduction in mortality (increased education, plus other measures such as road crossing culverts) and the consideration of captive propagation. Major threats in the US are from habitat removal (e.g. mangrove swamps outside the Everglades National Park) and direct human disturbance (e.g. shooting, road-kills, gill-net fishing, vandalism and other disturbance of nests) which, although low, may be higher than the recruitment rate of the remaining crocodile population.

The American Crocodile is indeed endangered. Many people in lower Florida have tried to save these animals and they are gradually succeeding. CURRENT STATUS The American Crocodile was proclaimed endangered on December 18, 1979 and is still included on the “significantly” endangered list. CONCLUSION In conclusion, I have really learned a lot about the American Crocodile and its very different characteristics. I also learned much about the endangered species movement and their dedication to preserving a wonderful animal, the American Crocodile.

REFERENCES Barbour, T., The Crocodile in Florida, University of Michigan: University Press. (1923) Desmond, Morris, “Larousse Encyclopedia of the Animal World: American Crocodile,” New York: Larousse And Co., Inc. (1969) Ditmars, Raymond L., The Reptiles of North America, New York: Doubleday, Doran and Co. Inc. (1936) Field Enterprises, Inc., “The World Book: American Crocodile,” United States (1956) Funk & Wagnalls, “Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia: American Crocodile,” New York. (1991) Groavenor, Gilbert H., “National Geographic: American Crocodile,” Washington, D.C. (1978) Levy, Charles, Crocodiles and Alligators, London: Apple Press (1991) Neill, W.T., The Last of the Ruling Reptiles, New York: Columbia Press (1971) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Crocodile Recovery Plan, Atlanta: United States Government Press (1984).