Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What a Croc

Where the hell have I been? I've been badgered with demands for a new post and I have a very good reason for being delinquent. I was bitten by a crocodile. While this is 100% true. It's not the reason for for my absence. I'll get to that eventually.
The crocodile in question is a 2-foot monster. Snaggle-toothed, wiry, mean and nasty. He's an educational animal we have on display and although he's still a youngling...he's not to be trifled with. Like Alligators, Crocodiles have 80 teeth and when they are young, the teeth are sharp. The tour today involved a reptile demonstration in which I typically climb into the reptile pit, chase the alligator around a fig tree while rats snakes lunge at me from their perches and finally, with both reptile and myself exhausted capture the beast for display. I normally leave the crocodile alone. He's mean and snaps at me and it makes for a good show to see a grown man terrified of this small creature. I'm the coward version of Steve Irwin.

Today the boss was nice enough to extract both alligator and crocodile and leave them in an aquarium outside the reptile pit. This was in theory intended to make my life easier, but upon reaching into the 5 gallon tank to retrieve the far more pleasant alligator, the croc whipped about and snapped my finger. Without hesitation I plucked the gator from the tank, covered the bleeding finger and went on with the show. It was really no big deal.

The Everglades is the only place in the world where you can find Alligators and Crocodiles coexisting in the wild.

How to tell them apart?

American Alligators
-have tongues
-have a U-shaped nose
-mothers take care of their young up to 3 years
-prefer fresh water
-have black and yellow banding as young
-can not excrete salt water
-have a population of 1.5 million + in Florida
-are on the threatened list
-eggs that are incubated at 94 degrees and higher will be males and below will be females.

Alligator above - Crocodile below

American Crocodiles
-have no tongue
-have V-shaped noses
-have teeth that point up and down when the jaw is closed
-prefer salt or brackish water
-mothers don't take care of young
-have olive green and black banding as young
-can excrete salt
-have a population of 2000+ in Florida
-are on the endangered species list
-eggs that are incubated at 94 degrees or higher will be females and below will be males

Both have 80 teeth, need to maintain their body temperature by basking in the sun and when left alone have a shy disposition and will normally avoid humans. They can't interbreed. (edit -after rereading I've noticed how suggestive this sounds - of course mean Alligators and Crocodiles can't interbreed!)

The only crocodiles I have seen in the wild were in Flamingo in the Everglades National Park. They were each an estimated 12 feet in length. We were very close. Maybe too close. People are not on their menu but you still need to be safe.

(a picture for Pia circa 2005)


  1. do you think you tasted like chicken to them?


  2. I want a pict of the damaged digit!

    - Barry

  3. poor JunglePete, had to continue with the show after being bitten..
    do you have pictures of the little crocodile?

    I like the picture you posted of my brothers, thanks!

  4. Hello Pete,

    I hope all is going well with you. I just read your article on Crocs vs. Alligators. What do we have in Costa Rica? Both?
    I'm more interested in the coastal regions.

    Thanks....your pal,


  5. In Costa Rica you have Spectacled Caiman, Brown Caiman and the American Crocodile. (I looked it up)

  6. OUCH! Call me weird, but I look at it as kind of cool...I mean how many folks out there would ever get the chance to be bitten by a croc? Yeah, I'm weird.

    I used to work at a marina in South Florida and at one point, we had 3 crocs living in the area. It was pretty cool!