While most crocodiles don’t generally travel about with clocks in their stomachs, the fact is that they can eat just about anything. Their long narrow snouts are rimmed with sharp teeth that can rip apart large prey or snatch anything tasty that happens to float by. Those fierce teeth however, are not meant for chewing, oh no; they are meant for breaking up crab and turtle shells, or for crushing bones, even hooves and horns, so that they will fit down the croc’s sizeable throat.
The crocodile has a sturdy constitution and doesn’t seem to suffer from any indigestion. It has two chambers in its stomach. The first one grinds up those big chunks of food while the second one absorbs the nutrients. The crocodile’s digestive system is the most acidic of any animal’s and that’s why it can digest bones, shells and hooves. Their teeth and stomachs aren’t the only attributes that have helped crocodiles survive for eons. Despite the fact that they can eat just about anything, they also have an extraordinary ability to go without food. While other animals would die of starvation, some crocodiles can go a whole year without eating and simply pick up where they left off when food becomes available again.
A well-fed adult croc can be 15 feet long and weigh up to 450 pounds. But that doesn’t mean that they just slowly lumber along. They can shoot out of the water and onto shore at a terrifying 43 miles per hour! Once on land, they can keep pace with an Olympic runner at a speed of 18 mph. Fierce and muscular, crocodiles can tear each other into pieces in a battle over turf. But they are made rough and tough and heal better than most other animals. Many not only survive the loss of a leg or tail, but energetically continue to hunt and fight, living to the usual croc age of 50 or 60. Crocodiles have keen eyesight, excellent hearing and a good sense of smell. While they can’t focus well underwater, crocodiles can sight their prey on land from great distances and scientists even believe that they can see color. Their sharp ears are equipped with a movable flap that can prevent water from getting in. They can smell dead animals from afar and hone in for an easily scavenged meal. Their sensitive nostrils are located at the top end of their snout, which allows them to breathe while the rest of their bodies are under water.
Their leathery hide resembles a dead log and serves as wonderful camouflage when they silently glide through the water or rest along the water’s edge to warm in the sun like other cold blooded reptiles. Unlike other reptiles, however, crocs are able to withstand an occasional frost or freeze. In addition to being hale and hardy, let alone fast and fierce, crocodiles are also smart! They seem to learn quickly, particularly to avoid dangerous situations. Researchers who try to capture crocodiles report that the crocs catch on pretty fast and can’t be caught with the same trick more than once. So the next time you might be visiting the Florida Everglades or riding a barge down the Nile River in Africa, keep your eyes open for floating logs. You might want to steer clear if one of them winks at you.