Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)

These large reptiles mainly live in shallow, calm waters like lakes, ponds, marshes and lagoons. They’ve adapted especially to live in water. With broad snouts and flat heads, their eyes, ears and nostrils are all on one level. This allows them to see, hear, and smell with almost all of their body underwater. Their eyes are protected by a clear third eyelid for underwater vision, and their windpipe can be covered with a flap of skin to allow them to attack underwater without letting water into the lungs. They’re excellent swimmers and use their flat tail to propel them forward.

Mugger’s are social animals and can live for 40 years or more. When it comes to families, females will dig a hole nest and lay between 10 and 45 eggs. She’ll be on guard until the young hatch and then both mum and dad will look after their young until they’re about a year old.

Did you know the temperature of the nest determines whether the young are male or female? If the nest is about 32.5oC the babies will all be male, but if it is above or below 32.5oC they’ll all be females!

Muggers are vulnerable to extinction – mainly because in the 1950s & 60s they were aggressively hunted for their skin. Now they are under threat from habitat destruction, egg collection and drowning in fishing nets.

How to tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile

1. Crocs have long, narrow, V-shaped snouts – alligator's are wider and U-shaped

2. The fourth tooth on the lower jaw sticks over the upper lip on crocs so you can see it when their mouths are closed. In alligators it is covered up.

3. Crocs are a lighter olive brown colour, while alligators appear blackish.

» Find out how else you can help to protect Sri Lanka's endangered species

Written by Rainforest Rescue International

Illustration by Asia Hewapathirana

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