Friday, July 13, 2012

Dwarf Crocodile

Osteolaemus tetraspis
Meet the smallest living Crocodile, the appropriately named Dwarf Crocodile! These guys top out at lengths of only 5ft, which is pretty minuscule when you compare them to their larger Nile cousins. Those guys can grow to 16ft or more!

Dwarf Crocodiles are found in tropical west and central Africa. They live in ponds, swamps, and marshes, where they are most active during the nighttime hours.

When it comes to their personality and behavior, Dwarf Crocodiles are pretty timid and slow moving, but that doesn't mean they aren't still effective predators! They feed on all sorts of invertebrates and vertebrates alike, and will also consume carrion when available.

Mother Dwarf Crocodiles are very attentive parents. They build mounds out of decaying vegetation, which generate the heat needed to incubate the eggs. She will guard the mound until the eggs hatch, and then watch over her offspring for up to a year, as their small size makes them very vulnerable to predation.

Unfortunately, Dwarf Crocodiles are listed as Vulnerable. They aren't as well studied as their larger cousins, so the exact population status isn't as understood. It appears that hunting and deforestation are contributing to their decline.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Africa
Size : Length up to 5ft (1.5m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Crocodilia
Family : Crocodylidae -- Genus : Osteolaemus -- Species : O. tetraspis

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