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(Image: Georgiana Wingard, U.S.
Geological Survey. Public domain.)
Diet & Digestion
Its diet consists of mainly aquatic animals such as
fish, crustaceans and turtles. However, being an opportunistic and
powerful stealth hunter like the alligator, it will also take large
birds, and mammals, including livestock and domestic pets, and taking
large prey is usually a last resort, since, like its cousin, the
croc doesn't favor exerting so much energy in taking prey.
As the animal
is ectothermic (often called "cold-blooded"), it can only regulate its
body temperature by measured exposure to warmth, and warmth optimizes
its metabolism. Hence, it may cease eating entirely during the winter
months, since the lower temperatures hinder its digestion.
digestion may take several days or up to about two weeks,
depending on ambient temperature of the animal's environment.
Acid in the stomach breaks down the meat (and bone) ingested.
Crocodilians have been known to ingest objects such as stones
which may serve as gastroliths in the stomach, much as
they do in birds. The friction of the ingested hard objects may
contribute to the breakdown of food items. The hair of prey
items is regurgitated by the alligator as a "fur ball", similar
to that of a cat.
This image shows gastroliths
from the stomach of a captive adult crocodile; note that one of
the objects is a coin.
The crocodile is well adapted to taking fish as
food, given its time spent in marine habitat.
(Image: Tomas Castelazo. Creative Commons
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