Today’s Wonder of the Day takes us deep into the swamp. We’re discovering information about a rather large creature that resides there. It walks—and swims—using its four legs and long tail. It enjoys lurking in the water but is also capable of hunting on dry land. Have you figured out what it is? Here’s one more clue: This creature has a long snout filled with extremely sharp teeth. That’s correct! We’re referring to one of the swamp’s top predators—the crocodile!
The term “crocodile” originates from the Ancient Greek word for “lizard.” However, the crocodile is no ordinary lizard. In reality, crocodiles share more similarities with birds and dinosaurs than with today’s reptiles!
How large do crocodiles grow? That depends. There are sixteen species of crocodiles, and their sizes vary. The dwarf crocodile measures between five and six feet (1.5-1.9 meters) in length. On the other hand, the saltwater crocodile can exceed 23 feet (7 meters) in length! In American swamps, you’re most likely to encounter the American crocodile. They are among the largest crocodiles in the world and can reach lengths of up to 20 feet!
Some American crocodiles reside in southern Florida. However, the majority of them live in the swamps and wetlands of southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. This species is also considered endangered. Experts believe that American crocodile populations have declined due to illegal hunting and the destruction of swamp habitats.
Crocodiles are exceptional hunters. They typically lie in wait until another animal is in close proximity. They then launch a sudden attack, catching their prey off guard. Their long, streamlined bodies enable them to swim very swiftly in order to catch their prey. They can also move quickly on land over short distances. Crocodiles primarily feed on small mammals, birds, fish, and frogs.
Just how powerful is a crocodile’s bite? Their large jaws possess immense strength. They have the most powerful bite of any animal. Large crocodiles can exert a force of over 5,000 pounds per square inch when they bite down. That’s stronger than a Rottweiler, a hyena, or even a great white shark!
This is another characteristic that contributes to the success of crocodiles as predators. Any prey caught in their jaws is unlikely to escape. Have you ever encountered a crocodile? If you have, it’s advisable to move in the opposite direction. Unlike many other animals, crocodiles are definitely a threat to humans. This is one creature you don’t want to encounter in a dark alley!
Give It a Try
We hope today’s Wonder of the Day gave you something to think about! Find a friend or family member to assist you in trying out one or more of the following activities:
Interesting Facts About Crocodiles
- Have you ever thought about having a crocodile as a pet? What are your thoughts on this idea? What do you think would be the biggest challenges of having a crocodile as a pet? Can you imagine taking it for a walk or a swim? Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of having a crocodile as a pet. Use your imagination and have fun!
- Do you know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Can you easily distinguish between the two if you see them in the wild? If you want to learn more about these fascinating creatures and find out what sets them apart, check out the article “Alligators vs. Crocodiles.” Discuss the differences with a friend or a family member. Can you tell them apart now?
- Many people are unaware of the various types of crocodiles that exist. Choose two types of crocodiles and do some research on them. Afterwards, share what you have learned with a friend or a family member. What are the most intriguing facts you discovered about each of these animals?
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocodile (accessed on October 17, 2019)
- https://www.defenders.org/crocodile/basic-facts (accessed on October 17, 2019)
- http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/american-crocodile/ (accessed on October 17, 2019)
1. How strong are a crocodile’s jaws?
A crocodile’s jaws are incredibly powerful. The force of their bite can exert pressure of up to 3,700 pounds per square inch (psi), which is one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom. This immense strength allows them to easily crush the bones and shells of their prey.
2. Can a crocodile bite through steel?
No, a crocodile cannot bite through steel. While their jaws are incredibly strong, they are not capable of piercing through steel. However, they can easily bite through various materials such as wood, plastic, and even thick animal hides.
3. How do crocodiles use their jaws to catch prey?
Crocodiles primarily use their jaws to catch and hold onto their prey. They have a unique feeding method called the “death roll.” Once they have a firm grip on their prey, they will spin rapidly in the water, using the force to tear off chunks of flesh. This technique is particularly effective when hunting larger prey.
4. Are a crocodile’s jaws stronger than those of a shark?
Yes, a crocodile’s jaws are generally stronger than those of a shark. While sharks have a powerful bite, their bite force typically ranges from 600 to 1,000 psi. In comparison, a crocodile’s bite force can reach up to 3,700 psi. However, it’s important to note that different species of sharks and crocodiles may vary in their jaw strength.