The Nile Crocodile
The nile crocodile is the largest reptile in Africa. It is able to remain submerged for more than an hour. It is very powerful, it can drag a fully grown prey underwater in just a few seconds.
One of Africa's most feared predators, the Nile crocodile will eat anything it can overpower. The crocodile uses its powerful feet and claws to climb up river banks with surprising speed, and the female also uses her claws to dig a nest hole for her eggs.
The nostrils of the crocodile sit on a raised part of the snout, letting the crocodile breath when the rest of the body is submerged. A flap seals the nostrils during dives. His simple teeth grow continuously and after two years the worn teet are forced out by sharp new ones beneath them. Its muscular tail propells and steers the crocodile through the water, and is also used as a weapon. The eyes, like the nostrils, project above the head, so the crocodile can watch for prey while almost fully submerged in the water.
The Nile crocodile survives wherever there is water: it will die without it, and can survive in saltwater only for a short period of time. During the wet season, young crocodiles can live in rain puddles, moving to larger pools as they grow.
Unlike mammals and birds, reptiles can not regulate their body temperature from within. So, they must take other steps in keeping cool and warm. They bask in the sun to keep warm and look for shade or go into the water to keep cool. The crocodile moves to deep water, where the temperature stays constant. Here it remains inactive and can survive up to a year without eating.
A fully grown Nile crocodile will kill almost anything that it comes across. The crocodile's diet depends upon the type of prey available. The crocodile can't chew because his long teeth don't have cutting or grinding edges: instead, it rips off chunks of flesh and devours them. If the crocodile can't eat a large animal in one sitting, it stores the remains underwater, wedging them beneath rocks or wood.
The Nile crocodile mates during the dry season, and the young hatch once the rains arrive. Each male tries to mate with as many females as he can: this often causes fights to break out between rivals. After mating, the female digs a hole neat the water's edge and lays 25-75 eggs. She guards her nest for three months. When the young are ready to emerge, they make a chirping noise. This signals the mother to uncover the earth. Then she scoops them into her mouth and carries them to the safety of the water. She remains close to her young for up to four weeks, guarding them against predators.
The Nile crocodile is in no immediate danger of extinction. However, they are widely hunted for their skins and meat. With help from commercial breeders, the Nile crocodile has a good chance of being around for future generations.