American Crocodile

STATUS:
Endangered.

DESCRIPTION:
American crocodiles are well-armored with tough, scaley skin. They are gray-green or olive-green with long, slender snouts, which distinguish them from their cousin the alligator. Also unlike the alligator, the fourth tooth on the bottom jaw of the American crocodile is visible when its mouth is closed.

SIZE:
Adult crocodiles are 7 to 15 feet long and weigh 150 to 450 pounds. Young crocodiles are 8 to 10 inches long when they hatch.

POPULATION:
There are approximately 500 to 800 American crocodiles in Florida.

LIFESPAN:
Crocodiles can reach 60 to 70 years of age.

RANGE:
American crocodiles are found in southern Florida, the Caribbean, southern Mexico, and along the Central American coast south to Venezuela.

HABITAT:
American crocodiles inhabit areas where fresh and salt waters mix, such as coastal wetlands and canals.

FOOD:
Crocodiles eat a variety of crabs, fish, waterfowl, and small mammals.

BEHAVIOR:
Decidedly less aggressive than the infamous Nile and Australian crocodiles, American crocodiles are rarely seen by people.

OFFSPRING:
In April or May, the female crocodile will build a nest of loose dirt in a mound by the water's edge and lay 35 to 50 eggs. She buries the eggs and fiercely guards her nest. When the eggs hatch in July or early August, the female helps carry her young to the water, but, unlike the alligator, she will not continue to care for her young.

THREATS:
Once hunted intensively for their hides, today poaching and the loss of habitat to human development are the greatest threats faced by American crocodiles.

PROTECTION:
Endangered Species Act, *CITES, Appendix I