C is for Crocodiles!
Oh! So many creatures I could have blogged for the ‘C’ spot. But how could I resist crocodiles?
Crocodile are always seen as baddies. It’s true that you cannot look into their eyes and feel any warmth, like you can with orangutans. Also true – they would happily chomp down on your torso, then drown you, before swiftly turning themselves underwater with you in their mouth to loosen your limbs a bit, and swallow you up. Or lodge you under a rock to keep for later, when you have decayed for bit. Without even having the common decency to allow you to live for a little longer, admittedly in great discomfort, while they chew.
But if you can look past these trivial less-than-friendly character traits, crocodiles are very interesting and even tender animals.
Crocs and their ancestors have been on the earth for 240 million years – the earth was a very different place when they appeared. Dinosaurs have come and gone, and man has arrived. They have survived even through ice age and flood.
It takes a special animal to be able to do that, and crocodiles are special. They can hold their breath for at least an hour underwater. They can, and will eat anything. They can survive in saltwater and fresh, and saltwater crocs can grow up to 7m.
Another interesting fact is that all the muscles in their jaw are for closing and keeping their mouth tight shut on their prey. They have no great powers to OPEN their jaws – so if you have some presence of mind, you could grab their mouth and hold it shut before they bite, and keep safe. Maybe.
Crocodiles fight each other fiercely, and can suffer terrible wounds – but they heal remarkably quickly, with little or no infection, even though they live in bacteria infested water. This is because their blood has strong antibacterial properties. Scientists are investigating this, in case its properties can be used as an antibiotic for humans. Read about this here: Crocodile antibiotic hope!
But the surprising point I am building to is this – they are very tender, caring mothers! Mother crocodiles lay their eggs in a hole, cover them, then wait in the river nearby to protect them, until they are ready to hatch. As they hatch, the baby crocodiles cry out, and their mother (with her remarkable hearing) hears them and rushes to dig them up and help them out of their shells. Then she gently carries them, in her mouth, to the water. She stays close by and if any of them yelps in distress, she helps them… awwww!
I have a crocodile poem and facts in my book, Animal Magic.
Of the 23 species of crocodilians, 5 are listed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered, and 2 as Endangered. Click here to read about the IUCN Red List. Read more about crocodiles here: Wiki.
Illustration and post © Liz Brownlee
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