Nile Crocodile facts

Nile Crocodile facts

Nile Crocodile facts # 1
Crocodylus niloticus means “Crocodile of the Nile River”. The first part of the name, Crocodylus, is derived from the Greek word krokodeilos which literally means "pebble worm". Kroko is Greek for pebble while deilos means worm or man. The name is a reference to the rough skin of the crocodiles. 

Nile Crocodile facts # 2
Within its native range the Nile crocodile is known under many different names, such as Mamba in Swahili, Ngwenya in Ndebele and Garwe in Shona.

Nile Crocodile facts # 3
The Nile crocodile will normally dive for no more than a couple of minutes, but it can hold its breath for up to two hours if it stays inactive. It is equipped with a four-chambered heart that is very efficient at keeping the blood oxygenated.

Nile Crocodile fact # 4
The Nile crocodile uses its snout and feet to excavate a den in which it can seek shelter from adverse conditions, e.g. unfavourable temperatures.  

Nile Crocodile facts # 5
The Ancient Egyptians incorporated the Nile crocodile in their belief system, worshipping a crocodile god named Sobek. Sobek was associated with fertility and the power of the Pharaoh. The Middle Kingdom city of Arsinoe was the centre of worship for this deity; a place referred to as "Crocodilopolis" by the Greeks. Several other temples also existed throughout Egypt, such as the famous Kom-Ombo. According to Herodotus, the Sobek temple in Arsinoe contained a pool where a crocodile lived. This crocodile was fed, covered in jewellery and worshipped by the Egyptians. 

Today, it is fairly common among Nubian fishermen to mount stuffed Nile crocodiles over their doorsteps to ward off evil forces. 

Nile Crocodile facts # 6
Several subspecies of Nile crocodile have been suggested, but none of them have become widely acknowledged. Examples of suggested subspecies are:
Crocodylus niloticus africanus (East African Nile crocodile)
C. n. chamses (West African Nile crocodile)
C. n. corviei (South African Nile crocodile)
C. n. madagascariensis (Malagasy Nile crocodile)
C. n. niloticus (Ethiopian Nile crocodile)
C. n. pauciscutatus (Kenyan Nile crocodile)
C. n. suchus (Central African Nile crocodile)

Nile Crocodile facts # 7
In the hide trade, the skin from Crocodylus niloticus is considered a “classic skin” and it is much sought after for its lack of blemish-causing osteoderms. The yellowish underbelly of juvenile specimens is especially popular.

Nile Crocodile facts # 8
According to Herodotus, some of the Ancient Egyptians kept much pampered crocodiles in pools. When the crocodiles died they were embalmed, mummified, placed in sarcophagi and buried in a sacred tomb. Herodotus account is supported by the fact that a lot of mummified crocodiles and crocodile eggs have been found in Egyptian tombs.

Nile Crocodile facts # 9
The Nile crocodile has good hearing and can produce a lot of different sounds to communicate.

Nile Crocodile fact # 10
Inside the mouth of gaping crocodiles, you can sometimes see birds feeding on meat scraps and leeches. Several species of bird have been observed engaging in this behaviour, e.g. the Spur-winged plover (Vanelus spinosus). Whether this conduct is symbiotic or merely opportunistic remains unknown.  

Nile Crocodile fact # 11
The skin of the Nile crocodile contains integumentary sense organs (ISOs) whose function remains largely unknown. They may be capable of detecting changes in water pressure, but more research is needed before anyone can know for sure.

Nile Crocodile fact # 12
The Nile crocodile can eat up to half its body weight at a time.

Nile Crocodile fact # 13
The Nile crocodile is the largest crocodilian in Africa, but smaller than the Saltwater crocodile and the Gharial.

Nile Crocodile facts # 14
The bite force exerted by an adult Nile crocodile has been measured at 5,000 lbf (22 kN). The muscles used for closing the mouth (to hold prey) are however much stronger than the muscles responsible for opening the mouth, so even a human can hold the mouth of a crocodile shut.

Nile Crocodile fact # 15
Even though small animals make up a significant part of the diet even for gigantic Nile crocodiles, large crocs prefer large prey since such a diet is more energy efficient. If they can’t find suitable large prey, they will gradually move down to smaller and smaller prey.

Nile Crocodile fact # 16
Nile crocodiles are amazingly apt at handling limb loss and pathogens, e.g. bacteria that would cause serious infections in most other animals. Many crocodiles live to old age despite missing an arm or a leg, or even a part of the jaw.

Nile Crocodile facts # 17
The Nile crocodile is believed to kill a couple of hundred people a year, which is more than all the other crocodiles combined. Although being smaller than the infamous Saltwater crocodile, the Nile crocodile lives closer to human settlements and this increases the risk of fatal encounters. Obtaining accurate numbers is difficult since many fatalities may go unreported, especially in remote regions and areas marked by civil unrest. Nile crocodiles will also seek out corpses to scavenge, a habit which makes it complicated to establish the true cause of death.

Nile Crocodile fact # 18
The Nile crocodile is known to engage in a form of primitive tool use where it wedges its prey between braches or stones to make it easier to tear of suitably sized chunks of meat for swallowing.

Nile Crocodile fact # 19
Young crocodiles are sometimes preyed on by African Big Cats.

Nile Crocodile facts # 20
The Nile crocodile is an important stabilizer in the ecosystems in which it exists. It will for instance keep the populations of predatory species like the Barbel catfish in place; species that could otherwise force other species of fish to the brink of extinction by overeating them. This would in turn cause serious problems for animals that rely on those species, e.g. predatory birds.


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