American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) are well-armored with tough, scaly skin. They are gray-green or olive-green with long, slender snouts, which distinguish them from their cousin, the alligator. Also unlike the alligator, the fourth tooth on the bottom jaw of the American crocodile is visible when its mouth is closed. South Florida is the only place where you can find both crocodiles and alligators.
Length: 7-15 feet.
Weight: 150-450 lbs.
Lifespan 60-70 years.
An American crocodile’s diet consists mainly of small fish, invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals.
There are more than 1,000 American crocodiles, not including hatchlings, in Florida.
American crocodiles are found in southern Florida, the Caribbean, southern Mexico and along the Central American coast south to Venezuela.
American crocodiles inhabit brackish and saltwater habitats and are typically found in coastal mangrove wetlands, ponds, coves, creeks and canals. Decidedly less aggressive than the infamous Nile and Australian crocodiles, American crocodiles are shy, reclusive and rarely seen by people.
Mating Season: January and February.
Gestation: 2-3 month egg incubation.
Clutch size: 35-50 eggs.
In April or May, the female crocodile will build a nest of loose dirt in a mound by the water’s edge and lay her eggs. She buries the eggs and fiercely guards her nest. When the eggs hatch in July or early August, the female helps carry her young to the water. But, unlike the alligator, she will not continue to care for her young.
Once hunted intensively for their hides, today, loss of habitat to human development, illegal killing and roadkill are the greatest threats faced by American crocodiles. As sea level rises due to climate change, a significant portion of crocodiles’ coastal wetland habitat may face saltwater incursion or inundation.
- Endangered Species Act (ESA): American crocodiles are listed as endangered under the ESA, except in Florida, where they are listed as threatened. The Florida Endangered and Threatened Species Act lists the Florida population as endangered.
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
- CITES: American crocodiles are listed in Appendix I.