Crocodylus acutus. By Ken Mayer.



Meet the Alligator's Distant (but Local) Relative



Introduction  |  Taxonomy, Phylogeny & Etymologyny  |  Distribution & Population  |  Ecology

Anatomy & Physiology  |  Diet & Digestion  |  Reproduction  Survival Human Conflict

Cultural & Commercial Impact  |  Suggested Publications  |  References




American crocodile basking.AMERICAN


Crocodylus acutus


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Superorder: Crocodylomorpha

Order: Crocodilia

Family: Crocodylidae




(Image: Georgiana Wingard, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)



Human Conflict


While this crocodile has taken human life in its South American region, there is only one record of a wild croc of this species killing a human in its Florida range, involving a cruel provocation by a man, which led to his death by the crocodile. This incident demonstrates this animal's ability to kill when provoked, and the caution that should be exercised by humans living in their range.


At least two unprovoked attacks in its Florida range have been reported. A couple paddling in the Florida Keys in 2011 claimed that their kayak was overturned by a violent crocodile. A second incident took place in a Coral Gables brackish canal in August, 2014, where a man and woman who were swimming together in the early morning in a known crocodile habitat reportedly sustained bite injuries to the arms, shoulder and back-- signs of a 'textbook' crocodilian attack on a swimmer or snorkeler.


(Image istockphoto/Resbegeleidercom)


The American crocodile's recovery in densely human-populated South Florida region may have an effect on its typically reclusive behavior, as it becomes behaviorally desensitized to human presence. Thus, a sound safety approach is to treat them as similar to alligators in potential danger.


Their recovery has ironically placed them in Florida's "nuisance" animal management program alongside its cousin. Problem crocodiles are caught by licensed trappers and may be given to qualified zoos and wildlife parks, since relocating often results in the crocodile returning, even over long distance, to its origin. Magnets have been used by officials in the last couple of years - a magnet attached to the crocodile's head- to try to confuse its brain's ability to "home"; experimentation will tell if such a practice is effective.


More on this subject is discussed in the "Distribution & Population" section.


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