American Crocodile

Common Name:
American crocodiles
Scientific Name:
Crocodylus acutus
Type:
Reptiles
Diet:
Carnivore
Group Name:
Bask (on land), float (in water)
Average Life Span In The Wild:
Up to 70 years
Size:
Up to 15 feet
Weight:
Up to 2,000 pounds
IUCN Red List Status:
Vulnerable
Current Population Trend:
Increasing

The American crocodile is considered at-risk in nearly all parts of its North, Central, and South American range. Survey data, except in the United States, is poor or nonexistent, but conservationists agree that illegal hunting and habitat depletion has reduced populations of this wide-ranging reptile to critical levels.

Range and Habitat

A small, remnant population lives in southern Florida, but most are found in southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Their habitat of choice is the fresh or brackish water of river estuaries, coastal lagoons, and mangrove swamps.

Crocodiles vs. Alligators

A prehistoric-looking creature, it is distinguishable from its cousin, the American alligator, by its longer, thinner snout, its lighter color, and two long teeth on the lower jaw that are visible when its mouth is closed.

Size

This species is among the largest of the world's crocodiles, with Central and South American males reaching lengths of up to 20 feet. Males in the U.S. population rarely exceed 13 feet, however.

Diet

Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds, fish, crabs, insects, snails, frogs, and occasionally carrion. They have been known to attack people, but are far more likely to flee at the sight of humans.

Conservation

Most countries in the American crocodile's range have passed protection laws, but unfortunately, few governments provide adequate enforcement.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Jorge Hauser, National Geographic Your Shot

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