Crocodylus acutus. By Ken Mayer.



Meet the Alligator's Distant (but Local) Relative



Introduction  |  Taxonomy, Phylogeny & Etymology  |  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.)



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.


Gastroliths from a crocodile's stomach.Food 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.



American crocodile eating a fish.




















The crocodile is well adapted to taking fish as food, given its time spent in marine habitat. 

(Image: Tomas Castelazo. Creative Commons license.)



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