Nature may seem cruel sometimes, but it has established a system for creating a surprisingly varied expression for life, from single celled bacteria, to blue whales and human beings. One of its more robust evolutionary paths gave rise to crocodiles. These apex predators remain unchanged from when they first arose, before dinosaurs walked the earth, and they still dominate every ecosystem they occupy. You will be amazed when you watch this astounding video of a saltwater crocodile eat a stingray in the surf off of Central America.
In this clip, tourists to a beachside resort in Costa Rica watch as the circle of life unfolds in front of them.
A saltwater crocodile has swam out into the surf to feed, and manages to capture a hapless stingray in its monstrous maw.
This got us to thinking about these deadly predatory reptiles and we decided to find out more about them.
Crocodiles are found in the tropical regions of every continent on Earth except Antarctica. The order Crocodilia includes thirteen species of crocodiles, as well as alligators, caimans, and gharials.
The smallest crocs will grow to be about five and a half feet long, but the largest can grow to well over twenty feet in length and weigh in at more than two thousand pounds.
These ghastly relics from a time before dinosaurs ruled the planet are strict carnivores that will eat anything from fish, frogs, and birds, to water buffalo and zebras, and sometimes the occasional person as well. Crocs are also well known cannibals who will eat smaller crocs when offered the opportunity.
They typically lay in wait at the water’s edge until a prey animal gets close enough, and then with lightning speed, the croc will seize the animal in its vise like mouth. They will drag the animal into deeper water and perform a move called the death roll, in which they spin the animal underwater until it drowns. If it is a larger meal, crocodiles will often drag the carcass to a muddy spot along the shore and let it sit for a few days in the sun to tenderize.
Due to extremely slow metabolisms, crocodiles can live without food for weeks if need be. They also swallow stones that help break up the food they ingest. If they experience long periods of drought or colder temperatures, they can hibernate for weeks by burrowing a nest along the shore or a lake or stream.
Crocodiles lay 10 to 60 eggs at a time. The hatchlings stay in their eggs for 55 to 110 days. They are 7 to 10 inches long when they are born and don’t mature until they are 4 to 15 years. How long a crocodile lives depends on its species. Even though newborn crocs look as cute as any baby, they will become dangerous to handle very quickly as their teeth come in. Some only live to around 30 years, while others live up to 75 years.
Have you ever seen a crocodile in the wild? Please share your stories with us here.