There’s no doubt that crocodiles are some of the most feared and powerful creatures in the world. And they can be found in the wetlands, waterways and estuaries of just about every continent except Antarctica. Crocodilians stand out from most animals thanks to their insanely strong jaws and fierce hunting prowess. But that’s not all – there are so many intriguing facts you may have never heard of and this article is all about letting you know what they are.
1. They Use Tools for Deceptive Hunting
Humans aren’t the only ones who know how to use tools. Otters, primates and herons all make use of surrounding objects for their benefit. You can add crocodilians to that list as well. These large reptiles have been observed using sticks to create the illusion of a nesting site so they can lure in unsuspecting birds. American alligators, on the other hand, are known to hang around the main habitats of birds during the nesting season with sticks balanced on their noses. Quite the clever bunch, aren’t they?
2. They Can Strike Vertically
Despite their stocky appearance, crocodilians are actually really fast on their feet. Thanks to their muscular legs, they are able to propel forward and strike prey with lightning-fast speeds. But that’s not all. With their equally strong tails, they are able to launch themselves vertically as well, using the force of said tail against the riverbed. This remarkable ability allows them to easily capture nearby animals or birds flying close to the water.
3. They Have Eye Crystals to Reflect Moonlight and Starlight
Every single part of a crocodilian’s body is well suited for a life of hunting. Their eyes in particular are known to shine a soft reddish color at night due to the guanine crystals found in the tapetum lucidum layer behind the retina. Without these crystals crocodilians wouldn’t be able to see in the dark, let alone hunt. Like many other animals, their pupils dilate to let more light in and this light is magnified and reflected back to the crystals through the retina. Sadly, this makes them vulnerable to poachers who can easily spot their glowing eyes in the dark.
4. They Can Climb Trees
Crocodilians are scary enough in the water but they can climb trees as well? Yep, and they’re pretty good at it too. Four crocodilian species including the saltwater crocodile and the freshwater crocodile have been observed scaling trees with great agility. Remember that their body is packed with crazy strong muscles and that they can use their tails to leap vertically. So, it should be no surprise that they can use their sheer strength to get to high places. They do this to both search for prey and to keep an eye out for predators.
5. Their Scales Are Solar Heat Distributors
Just about every crocodilian species has a special group of scales on their back. Because they are cold-blooded, crocodilians do not produce enough body heat on their own and must rely on external sources of energy. That’s where their scales come in. They’re basically built-in solar panels complete with a network of small capillaries that are heated by the sun. The heated blood is then distributed throughout the reptile’s body so it can remain active and warm. This adaptation makes crocodilians more readily able to remain active in cooler temperatures.
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