A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae. The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e. the true crocodiles, the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae) and the gharials (family Gavialidae), as well as the Crocodylomorpha.
Crocodilians are the most vocal of all reptiles, and calls vary widely depending on species, age, size and sex. Context is also very important, and some species can communicate over 20 different kinds of messages through sound alone.
The saltwater crocodile is the largest living crocodilian species based on confirmed measurements. It is also the world's largest living reptile in terms of mass.
A large lizard-shaped reptile, the crocodile closely resembles the alligator. Hatchlings are about 23 centimeters in length; adults may grow to 4.5 meters or larger.
The adult crocodile's diet includes fish, crabs, birds, turtles, snakes, and small mammals. The young feed chiefly on aquatic invertebrates and small fish. As a general rule crocodilians feed on any prey items which can be caught and overpowered.
Crocodiles and alligators belong to a group of reptiles called crocodilians, which are the largest of the living reptiles. Of the 23 different species of crocodilians in the world, 2 species are native to the United States, and south Florida is the only place where both of these species coexist.
American Crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus)...inhabit coastal areas of south Florida where they are at the northern extreme of their range. American crocodiles also can be found on the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola, as well as along both coasts of southern Mexico and Central America, south to Ecuador on the Pacific coast of South America, and Venezuela on the Atlantic coast.
The saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile in the world, and perhaps the most dangerous. Along with alligators, saltwater crocodiles are responsible for more human fatalities per year than any other predator on earth.
Saltwater crocodiles prefer to take prey from the water's edge. These patient predators will float for hours on end, eyes focused on the bank, waiting for a thirsty animal to approach for a drink.
The maximum number of nesting females in Florida has increased from 20 in 1975 to 85 in 2004, and the number of concentrations of nesting effort from two to four. This evidence supports the proposed reclassification of the American Crocodile from endangered to threatened.
Crocodiles are still threatened by modification of habitat because of development adjacent to crocodile habitat and will benefit from restored freshwater flow into estuaries. As crocodiles continue to increase in number and expand into new areas, interactions with humans will occur more frequently. The challenge of integrating a recovering population of the American Crocodile with an ever-increasing use of coastal areas by humans will be the final challenge in successful recovery of this once critically endangered species.