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African dwarf crocodiles, also known as bony crocodiles or simply just dwarf crocodiles, are the smallest living species of crocodile. They are native to the rainforests of West Africa and can be found in rivers and swamps.
See the fact file below for more information on the dwarf crocodile or alternatively, you can download our 19-page Dwarf Crocodile worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ETYMOLOGY AND TAXONOMY
- The dwarf crocodile belongs to the genus Osteolaemus under the family Crocodilia. The name Osteolaemus, which is used to refer to dwarf crocodiles, comes from the Greek word meaning “bony throat”. This is because of the bony scales covering the neck and belly of the crocodile.
- There are two recognized subspecies of the dwarf crocodile, namely Osteolaemus tetraspis and Osteolaemus osborni.
- The term tetraspis means “four shields” and is used to refer to the four shield-like scales on the back of the crocodile’s neck. The term osborni on the other hand is derived from the name of the scientist who classified the subspecies, American paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn.
- Adult dwarf crocodiles can reach an average length of 1.5 meters, although there has been a recorded length of 1.9 meters. These animals can weigh from 18 to 32 kilograms (40 to 70 pounds).
- The largest adult females can weigh up to 40 kilograms, while the largest males can weigh as much as 80 kilograms (180 pounds).
- The dwarf crocodile’s body has a black covering with a yellowish underbelly. Tough, armored scales that cover its entire body serve as the animal’s protection from injury and getting burnt by the hot sun.
- The dwarf crocodile has specific physical features in order for them to adapt when in the water, including a muscular tail that allows them to propel while swimming and webbed feet that help with walking on slippery banks.
- They have a short, blunt snout with 12 to 13 teeth on the upper jaw and 14 to 15 on the lower jaw. Their eyes and nostrils are positioned at the top of their heads to enable them to see and breathe while their bodies are submerged in the water.
- As a mostly nocturnal reptile, the dwarf crocodile spends the day hidden in pools and burrows which they dig into the ground. If unable to create a burrow due to the type of environment, the dwarf crocodile usually stays between tree roots which hang over ponds.
- The dwarf crocodile hunts for small prey during the night when it is dark. However, they have the ability to survive for long periods without food.
- The dwarf crocodile is a cold-blooded animal, which means that it has to bathe in the sun to keep its body warm and give it energy to hunt. They re-enter the water when they need to cool down.
HABITAT AND DIET
- The dwarf crocodile can be found all throughout Sub-Saharan West Africa, including the countries of Gambia, Ghana, Congo, Angola, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. Some areas have a higher population of dwarf crocodiles than others.
- They can be found in slow-moving rivers, thick rainforests with swamps, seasonal floodplains, and permanent pools of water. They usually avoid main sections of large rivers.
- The dwarf crocodile is a carnivorous animal, with its usual diet consisting of fish, crabs, frogs, insects, bats, and other small animals. During the wet season, it mostly consumes fish, but then it shifts to shellfish during the dry season.
- Currently, dwarf crocodiles face severe threats in their natural habitats.
- Male and female crocodiles only interact closely during breeding season. The female dwarf crocodile builds her nest mounds at the beginning of the wet season around May and June. This nest is composed of wet, decaying plants that incubate the eggs near the water source.
- The male crocodile will mate with several females that share his territory. The female will then lay up to 20 white eggs in the nest mound. She will strongly guard these eggs against predators until they hatch 3 months later.
- When the eggs hatch, the young dwarf crocodiles will call for their mother from under the nest mound.
- The mother will dig them out to help them escape. She will then pick up her young dwarf crocodiles with her mouth and carry them into the water.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature has considered the dwarf crocodile as vulnerable. Little is known of their species compared to other crocodiles, so conservationists are not fully aware of the conditions of their populations.
- Some reports by scientists agree that the dwarf crocodiles’ numbers are in decline primarily due to deforestation by humans. They are, however, still being kept and bred in zoos across North America and Europe.
Dwarf Crocodile Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the dwarf crocodile across 19 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Dwarf Crocodile worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the african dwarf crocodiles, also known as bony crocodiles or simply just dwarf crocodiles, which are the smallest living species of crocodile. They are native to the rainforests of West Africa and can be found in rivers and swamps.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Dwarf Crocodile Facts
- Meet the Little Crocodile
- Snappy Facts
- Life Story
- Small Crocs FAQs
- Two Small Crocs
- Crocs vs Gators
- Draw My Home
- Crocodile Recap
- In the Wild
- Call for Help
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Link will appear as Dwarf Crocodile Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 3, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.