Slender-snouted Crocodile

Slender-snouted Crocodile

Slender-snouted Crocodile information

The Slender-snouted crocodile – also known as African slender-snouted crocodile, Long-snouted West-African crocodile, Long-nosed crocodile, and African sharp-nosed crocodile – lives in freshwater habitats in central and western Africa. It is far less widespread than the famous Nile crocodile and we know very little about it. Its scientific name is Crocodylus cataphractus.

Recent mitochondrial DNA analysis has indicated that the Slender-snouted crocodile might be more distantly related to the other members of the genus Crocodylus than previously thought, and placing it in its own genus, Mecistops, have been suggested. As of now, it remains in the genus Crocodylus.

Slender-snouted Crocodile taxonomy

Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Chordata
Class:            Sauropsida
Order:           Crocodilia
Family:          Crocodylidae
Subfamily:    Crocodylinae
Genus:           Crocodylus
Species:         Crocodyluscataphractus

Recent mitochondrial DNA analysis has indicated that placing this species in the genus Mecistops might be more accurate. If so, its name would be Mecistops cataphractus.

Slender-snouted Crocodile conservation status

Crocodyluscataphractus is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Too little is known about Crocodyluscataphractus to make an assessment. The populations in Angola and Chad show population decline, and populations in Congo and Togo are reported to be very small. Gabon is on the other hand considered a stronghold for the species. 

Unlike the Nile crocodile, the Slender-snout crocodile is not protected by sustainable yield ranching programs and the only known sustainable use programs for this species are based on cropping of wild populations.

Slender-snouted Crocodile range

The Slender-snouted Crocodile lives in central and western Africa. It is known from the following countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Zambia.

Slender-snouted Crocodile habitat

As far as we know, the Slender-snouted crocodile is a highly aquatic species that prefers freshwater environments with dense vegetation cover. It is primarily found in riverine habitats but is also known from lakes. Occasional specimens have been encountered in brackish conditions along the coast and on the offshore island Bioko.

Slender-snouted Crocodile size and appearance

The Slender-snouted crocodile is a small to medium sized crocodilian that usually stays around 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length. The maximum size is reported to be 4.2 m (13.8 feet).

As the name suggests, the slender-snouted crocodile has a very slender snout.
The Slender-snouted crocodile differs from all the other members of the genus Crocodylus by having three or four rows of protective scales over the back of the neck where the other crocodilians have only two. The Slender-snouted crocodile is also decorated with blotches that make it look more like the Gavialidae and some members of the Alligatoridae.

Slender-snouted Crocodile feeding and diet

The diet of the Slender-snouted crocodile is believed to consist chiefly of fish, amphibians and small aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans. It is most likely an opportunistic predator like the other crocodilians that will feed on a wide range of prey if given the opportunity.

Slender-snouted Crocodile breeding

The Slender-snouted crocodiles normally commence breeding during the rainy season and unlike the rest of the year, they are found in groups at the onset of the breeding season. This species has a similar but usually shorter nesting season than the Dwarf crocodile Osteolaemus tetraspis which is found in the same environment. It should also be noted that breeding can be asynchronous even within members of one population.

As the rainy season starts, the female builds a mound nest on a river bank primarily using plant matter. Roughly one week after completing her nest she will lay 13-27 (16 is the average). Considering her small body size the eggs are very large, and compared to other crocodilian species the incubation time is long, sometimes exceeding 110 days.

The female will stay close to her nest during the incubation time and when the young starts emitting their characteristic chirping she will assist them by opening the nest. The hatchlings then disperse across the forest floor which has become flooded by the rain.

Compared to other crocodile species, Slender-snouted hatchlings have a high survival rate. If this is caused by the large egg size and long incubation or if it is the other way around remains unknown. 

Slender-snouted Crocodile facts

Slender-snouted Crocodile facts # 1
The name Crocodylus cataphractus means “Crocodile clad in amour”. Cataphractus comes from the Greek word kataphraktos.

Slender-snouted Crocodile facts # 2
The Slender-snouted crocodile is named after its characteristic narrow nose. Within its native range, it is also known as Khinh, Cabinda, Crocodile à museau allongé d Afrique, Crocodile à museau étroit, Faux-gavial d'Afrique, Panzer crocodile, and Loricate crocodile. 

Slender-snouted Crocodile facts # 3
Inside its slender snout, this crocodile has 64-70 teeth. 

Slender-snouted Crocodile facts # 4
Slender-snouted crocodiles are normally not found in groups, except for the start of the breeding season.

Slender-snouted Crocodile facts # 5
Soft-shelled turtles are known to prey on Slender-snouted hatchlings.

Slender-snouted Crocodile lifespan

The Slender-snouted Crocodile can live for at least 50 years. We still know very little about its life, including average and maximal lifespan.


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