Marine Biology

The Diet and Feeding Habits of the Nile Crocodile



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The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is the largest crocodile in Africa growing up to 20 feet in length and weighting in at over 1,600 pounds. The Nile crocodile lives in marshes, swamps and the rivers of Africa the natives fear what they call the "Great Beast" it is believed Niles are responsible for at least 200 human deaths a year. Unfortunately, for human the Nile is not a fussy eater and will devour a human just as violently and quickly as any other prey.

~ Diet ~

The Nile crocodile will eat anything (expect a rotting carcass) according to Robert Penner, a former member of the team headed by the late Steve Irwin, (Crocodile Hunter) over 70% of their diet is fish. Which they grasp with their large teeth and swallow completely whole.

The adult crocodile diet also consist of large wild cats, zebras, buffalo, wildebeest, small to medium sized hippopotamuses and smaller reptiles.

The juveniles eat small water invertebrates and insects. The juvenile crocodile is prey for all of the other carnivore animals. The mother Nile will bring food to the young and eventually venture out with them to keep an eye on them, when a juvenile is in danger of becoming a meal the mother will snatch it up and hide it in a pouch inside of her mouth until the danger passes.

~ Hunting Prey ~

The Nile crocodile is quick moving and excellent at stalking its prey. With its huge eyes and the very tip of its head sticking out of the murky water it goes unnoticed by the unsuspecting animals drinking nearby or a fishermen looking for his own dinner.

With one swift lunge forward the Nile will grab its prey with its massive jaws and shaking it to death or it will strike the prey with its powerful tail and knock it down then proceed to kill it.

~ Community Hunting ~

The Nile crocodiles are not known for their excellent manners or social skills however when fish migrate a group of crocodiles will join together and force the fish towards shallow water and each crocodile will eat there share in a civilized manner. Occasionally a few crocodiles will share a large meal of a wildcat or hippo as well.

~ Left Over's ~

The Nile will consume all of its prey including the bones in one feeding. They use their large teeth to rip the pieces off and swallow it whole. A crocodile can go a few weeks in between feeding but it never lets a food opportunity get away. The Nile will hide their kill under branches or brush in a cool spot so it doesn't spoil before it gets a chance to eat it.

With the ability to hunt both in the water and on land a Nile crocodile is almost certain to get his or her meal of choice.

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