Crocodilians Are Fearless HuntersBy
Crocodilians are fearless hunters. They will go after just about anything that comes near the water. And they are so strong that most animals are helpless against them. As soon as a crocodile manages to grab hold of its prey with its muscular jaws and pull it underwater, the animal is probably doomed.
But strength isn’t the only thing that makes crocodilians excellent hunters. They are also very good at stalking their prey without being seen. They can often swim right up to another animal and grab it before it even knows they are there.
As a rule, most crocodilians eat fish and other aquatic prey. But many adults also eat turtles, small mammals, and birds. And some, like the Nile crocodile, may attack very large mammals.
Crocodilians can see other animals without being seen. This is because their eyes and nostrils are located on the tops of their heads. They can breathe and look around with only a small part of their bodies showing.
A crocodile that attacks a lion may be biting off more than it can chew. Some lions are strong enough to win a fight with a crocodile.
Most of the large animals that crocodilians catch are caught near the shore. The attack starts when a crocodilian sees an animal come down to the water to drink. The crocodilian dives quietly under the water. It swims toward the animal without being seen.
When it gets close, it leaps out of the water and grabs its prey.
Crocodilians usually drag their prey back into the water and drown it.
You might think that big animals like crocodiles would always be looking for food. But they really eat very little. In fact, this huge Nile crocodile eats about the same amount of food each day as the bird that’s perching on its back. This is because cold-blooded animals don’t need as much food to keep them going as warm-blooded birds and mammals do.
Crocodilians usually don’t attack animals as large as lions. More often, they capture smaller prey, like the capybara shown here. It is a favorite of the South American caimans.
Impalas and other small antelopes are often taken by Nile crocodiles. The crocodile catches them by their feet or their head as they drink from the river.
Except for the hippopotamus, crocodiles are more dangerous to people than any other animal in Africa. People learn to be careful when they go to a stream to get water.
A Nile crocodile will eat almost anything. But it won’t eat an Egyptian plover—not even when the bird walks right into the crocodile’s mouth! This is because the birds sometimes pick the crocodile’s teeth and help to keep its mouth clean.
Crocodilians are not fast runners. But they can leap out of the water so fast that their prey may not even see them coming.