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Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) Fact Sheet

Nile crocodile

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

Image credit: © David Schenfeld from Flickr. Some rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Crocolydia

Family: Crocodylidae

Genus: Crocodylus

Species: Crocodylus niloticus - Nile Crocodile

Body Weight: 70-100 kg

Body Length: 2-3.3 m (6.6 -10.8 ft); maximum length snout to tip of tail:
5 m (16.4 ft); largest crocodile in Africa.

Sexual Dimorphism: Males larger than females.

Other features: Salt glands on tongue secrete salt and help animal adapt to salt water environments.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Primarily found in Africa, though native to Madagascar. In Africa, widespread distribution south of the Sahara; absent from the southern tip of Africa.

Habitat: Freshwater lakes, rivers and brackish coastal swamps.

IUCN Status: Least Concern; possibly threatened in some parts of range.

CITES: Appendix I ; ranching allowed in some African Countries (II)

Population in Wild: Estimated c. 250,000-500,000 but figures not reliable.

Activity Cycle: Primarily nocturnal. In daylight, basks in the sun and cools off in the water when necessary.

Locomotion: Avoid travel on land if possible. propulsion in water by tail and body undulations; bottom walk in shallow water. Can "high walk" with legs erect under body, dragging the tail.

Diet: Varies with age. Hatchlings eat insects; adults can eat large prey such as impala, bushbucks, buffalo, young hippos, and even lions.

Interspecies Interactions: Hippos and Nile Crocodiles occupy the same habitats; hippos tend to be more dominant. Common Sandpipers, and several plover species pick ectoparasites from crocodiles.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Courtship: Elaborate rituals in water with males displaying to females; one to five months' interval between mating and nesting.

Nesting: Colonial nesting; during dry season, female digs hole in sand near the water. Mother buries and guards eggs.

Clutch Size: 55-60 eggs

Inter-clutch Interval: 1-2 clutches per year

Incubation: 80-90 days

Growth: Young grow c. 30 cm/yr (1 ft/yr); growth slows to 2.5 cm/yr (1 in/yr) for old crocodiles

Sexual Maturity: 12 -19 yrs. in wild.

Longevity: long lived; survive 50-80 years in the wild.

Crocodiles independently evolved a four chambered heart, as did birds and mammals but it can also function as three-chambered to save oxygen when submerged.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2015 San Diego Zoo Global.

How to cite: Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) Fact Sheet. c2014. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. nile_crocodile.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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