Marine Biology

The Diet and Feeding Habits of the Nile Crocodile



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The Nile crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus, is the second largest of the four crocodile species found in Africa. It inhabits much of Africa south of the Sahara and is also found in Madagascar. Although no longer considered to be an endangered species the territories of the creature are diminishing. This is particularly a result of its range overlapping with that of humans, who dislike the crocodiles, not least because of their tendency to eat them.

Humans are not the main prey species of the Nile crocodile, however. This dubious honor goes to fish and a variety of other small vertebrates. These monsters are not fussy eaters and will consume pretty much anything that doesn't run away fast enough. For hatchling crocs this will mean insects and the small varieties of aquatic invertebrates.

But the crocs soon move on larger meals with amphibians, reptiles, and birds being next on the menu. Adult crocs will take anything that comes in or around the water where they are lurking, eyes above the surface, before jumping out, grabbing the creature and holding it under the water until it dies. They may feed together and use each other for leverage in tearing the flesh off the animal, a behavior known as the death roll.

Prey species can include everything from zebras, antelope and baboons, to predators such as hyenas and lions, and even to creatures as big as giraffes. Nile crocodiles will even indulge in a bit of cannibalism on occasion. 70% of the adult Nile crocodile diet is fish though, and they will even cooperate with each other to herd the fish towards the bank before feasting.

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