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April 22, 2018  |  Login

African Dwarf Crocodile
Osteolaemus tetraspis

What Are They Like?

As its name suggests, the African dwarf crocodile is diminutive in size. Adult crocodiles measure between 5.5-6.25 feet (1.7-1.9 meters) in length. They are dark in color with a yellowish stomach area with many black patches, and also have a short, blunt snout. Young dwarf crocodiles are light brown with yellowish patterns on the head.

Where Do They Live?

Dwarf Crocodiles are found in Western areas of Africa such as the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Their habitat includes both terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, but most of their nesting takes place in swamps or swamp forests. They have a preference for standing bodies of water and sometimes live in savannah habitats, where they spend the dry season in burrows or hidden beneath tree root structures.

Did You Know?
Unlike other reptiles, crocodilians have four-chambered hearts. All other reptiles have three chambers in their hearts.

How Are Babies Made?

Females start making nests of vegetation early in the wet season for breeding. They typically produce ten hard-shell eggs that are incubated for approximately 100 days before hatching. The young measure 11 inches (28 centimeters) in length and immediately leave the nest after hatching with the help from their mother.

What Do They Eat?

This aquatic predator feeds on fish, crustaceans and amphibians. It may also prey on terrestrial animals. The dwarf crocodile’s prey changes by wet and dry seasons when certain species are abundant. During the dry season, they venture onto land at night in search of food.


What Do They Do?

The african dwarf crocodile must maintain its body temperature. Therefore, it basks in the sun to warm itself and must find shade or cool vegetation to cool down.  When they swim they rely on their tails for power, and they can walk, or even gallop, on land. Dwarf crocodiles are mainly solitary animals except during breeding season. Females start making nests of vegetation early in the wet season.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has created a “Red List” of species in global endangerment, and the dwarf crocodile is listed as “vulnerable.” Their wild population is slowly decreasing with threats of extinction in Gambia and Liberia due to habitat destruction and hunting meat for local consumption. Its small size and nonaggressive nature make this crocodile easy for capture and transport.

What's Being Done?

The African dwarf crocodile is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means international trade of this species is controlled. Captive breeding is also being discussed for the near future; however a monitoring system being established is of higher priority to fully establish the status of the dwarf crocodile.


Dwarf Crocodile

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