One of the most fascinating animals we have in Guanacaste Costa Rica is the American Crocodile. Visitors come from all over the world to get a close look at this animal which is heavily populated in the Rio Tempisque of Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
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.
Here are 10 amazing facts regarding this fascinating animal:
- American crocodiles hunt by remaining completely motionless in the water. When prey is close they attack – grabbing the animal and drowning it with a maneuver referred to as the “death roll.”
- The crocodile feeds primarily on fish, but will eat crustaceans, turtles, and occasionally birds and many other mammals.
- Crocodiles swallow stones to aid in digestion and to control buoyancy in the water.
- Juvenile crocodiles, unlike adults, are unable to handle the salt content of the ocean environment. They are capable of drinking the freshwater film of water that floats upon the top layer of seawater. Adults can handle the normal saline levels of seawater by extracting the salt from their body using salt glands on their tongue.
- A crocodile’s ectothermic metabolism is extremely efficient. He can survive for long periods of time between meals.
- Crocodiles have brains and hearts that are more advanced than any other living reptile.
- Male crocodiles may exhibit courtship and territorial behaviors such as vocalization, and tail and head slapping. They are also able to create infrasonic sounds beneath the water, which causes ripples to form on the surface. A female crocodile tries to get the male’s attention through visual, tactile, olfactory, and audible enticements. The female initiates courtship displays. Before mating though, she must ease the aggressiveness of the male whose territory she has invaded.
- The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the young. If the nest is below 30 degrees Celsius (86°F) most hatchlings are female. If the nest is above 34 degrees Celsius (93°F) most hatchlings are male. Nest temperatures between 30-34 degrees Celsius will produce similar numbers of both sexes.
- Compared to other crocodilians, the American crocodile is a poor mother. She is very timid and is easily frightened away from the nest.
- This species is among the largest of the world’s crocodiles, with Central and South American males reaching lengths of up to 20 feet. Adults may reach 400-500 kg (882-1102 lbs.), with particularly large adults surpassing 1000 kg (2204.6 lbs.)
This fascinating river, which is over 144 kilometers long, is also an important habitat for several species of monkeys, iguanas, and migratory and aquatic birds such as the roseate spoonbill, white ibis, great egret, little blue heron, scarlet macaw, and the bare throated tiger heron. The variety of birds in this region is the most extensive in the entire country.
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