The American crocodile is one of 13 different species of crocodiles in the world. Crocodiles are brownish-green, have a long, narrow skull, and pointed snout, and a streamlined body. The tail is used like a paddle and is very powerful. A crocodile can swim as fast as 20 miles an hour. Even when its mouth is closed, all its teeth are visibvle. Their teeth last two years and are all replaceable. Crocodiles can grow to be 20 feet long and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
Crocodiles eat mostly fish, but have been known to catch and eat anything that wanders near enough. They swallow their prey whole, usually after drowning it, and they never chew. They have a tongue, but it doesn't help in their digestion. Crocodiles eat rocks which stay inside the stomach and help to grind up their food. Some scientists say that this helps keep the crocodiles from feeling hungry, or serves as extra weight while swimming or diving, to stay stable in the water.
The American crocodile has an interesting way of attracting fish to them. They throw-up a very small bit of food which attracts fish making them much easier to catch.
Crocodiles are cold-blooded and live in warm climates. They excavate burrows along the water's edge. They live in salt water or in brackish water along the coastline or coastal river mouth. They emerge from the water, or their burtrows, to raise their body temperature by lying in the sun.
During the dry season, they may become sluggish, refuse to eat, and bury themselves in the mud. Crocodiles can live a very long time, as long as 100 years, as long as their environment stays stable.
Crocodiles build nests in the winter months by digging a hole using their back legs and lay between 30 and 50 eggs. The eggs take nine or ten weeks to hatch and the mother stays close to the nest. She will rest her head on the nest, listening for the calls of the hatchlings. She will then dig them out using her front feet. Sometimes she has to crack the eggshell. The babies will feed on the yolk sac from their eggs for the first 2-14 days of life.
The babies make sounds like abarking dog and thier teeth are like tiny needles. Higher temperature (89-91) in the nest will produce more males, while lower temperature (below 88( produces females. Any temperature below 82 will kill the babies. They can't survive in vary salty water either. The young feed on fish and small land animals.
Crocodile waste provides important nutrients for the smaller animals in the food chain, but the crocodile is at the top of the food chain itself. There isi a colony of crocodiles living in by the Turkey Point power plant, and there is a wildlife refuge in Key Largo. At the edge of the Everglades, crocodiles live in the brackish waters of the Florida Bay. As theses areas become polluted, or drained by man, the crocodiles become endangered.