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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Nile Crocodile

Afrikaans name: Nylkrokodil

Nile Crocodiles in the Crocodile River

Nile Crocodile

Photo © Steven Herbert

Crocodylus niloticus

The Saltwater Crocodile is the biggest reptile in the world with the Nile Crocodile being the second. The Nile Crocodile will normally grow to over 4 metres in length. Occasionally individuals around 6 metres in length are encountered.

Crocodiles eat a wide variety of prey including mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. The catch their prey by ambushing them. They are well-known for taking large mammals like Burchell's Zebras and wildebeest as they cross, or drink from, a stretch of water. The wildebeest migration in Tanzania has been the subject of many films showing the epic struggle between crocs and wildebeest as the herds cross the river as part of their migration.

Although the larger, older individuals get preference these crocodiles are, however, quite sociable and will often be seen basking in the sun together.

Female crocodiles bury their eggs in sand and will keep nearby to guard the nest. Some animals such as the Nile Monitor seek out the nests and will try and eat the eggs if they can. Normally around 50 eggs are laid by one female.

The newly hatched crocodiles are freed from their sandy nest by the mother. She helps them escape from their shells and may even carry them to the water. Although the mother crocodile offers protection for the hatchlings they must feed themselves.

Large Nile Crocodile with its mouth open

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above and below - These monster reptiles sport a mouthful of sharp teeth! Nile Crocodiles actually have 66 teeth!

Nile Crocodile showing a scary set of teeth

Photo © Steven Herbert

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References and further reading

A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Graham Alexander and Johan Marais - Year Published: 2007 - Page: 352

African Wildlife - A photographic safari - Author: Nigel and Wendy Dennis - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 32

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 117

Bill Branch's Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Bill Branch - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 215

Kruger National Park Questions and Answers - Author: P.F. Fourie - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 362

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Year Published: 1995 - Page: 129

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 20

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 24

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 25

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 31

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 406

Reptiles & Amphibians of Southern Africa - Author: Warren Schmidt - Year Published: 2006 - Page: 88

Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Rod Patterson and Anothony Bannister - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 29

Sasol First Field Guide to Snakes & other Reptiles of Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Tracey Hawthorne - Year Published: 2016 - Page: 55

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 48

The Reptiles of the Kruger National Park - Author: U. de V. Pienaar, WD Haacke and NHG Jacobsen - Year Published: 1983 - Page: 225

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 250

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