The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Nile Crocodile

Afrikaans name: Nylkrokodil

Nile Crocodiles in the Crocodile River

Nile Crocodile

Photo © Steven Herbert

Crocodylus niloticus

The Saltwater Crocodile is the biggest reptile in the world with the Nile Crocodile being the second. The Nile Crocodile will normally grow to over 4 metres in length. Occasionally individuals around 6 metres in length are encountered.

Crocodiles eat a wide variety of prey including mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. The catch their prey by ambushing them. They are well-known for taking large mammals like Burchell's Zebras and wildebeest as they cross, or drink from, a stretch of water. The wildebeest migration in Tanzania has been the subject of many films showing the epic struggle between crocs and wildebeest as the herds cross the river as part of their migration.

Although the larger, older individuals get preference these crocodiles are, however, quite sociable and will often be seen basking in the sun together.

Female crocodiles bury their eggs in sand and will keep nearby to guard the nest. Some animals such as the Nile Monitor seek out the nests and will try and eat the eggs if they can. Normally around 50 eggs are laid by one female.

The newly hatched crocodiles are freed from their sandy nest by the mother. She helps them escape from their shells and may even carry them to the water. Although the mother crocodile offers protection for the hatchlings they must feed themselves.

Large Nile Crocodile with its mouth open

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above and below - These monster reptiles sport a mouthful of sharp teeth! Nile Crocodiles actually have 66 teeth!

Nile Crocodile showing a scary set of teeth

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Graham Alexander and Johan Marais - Published: 2007 - Page: 352

African Wildlife - A photographic safari - Author: Nigel and Wendy Dennis - Published: 1999 - Page: 32

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 117

Bill Branchs Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Bill Branch - Published: 1988 - Page: 215

Country Life - Issue 284 - Author: - Published: 2020 - Page: 66

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 64

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 208

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 406

Kruger National Park Questions and Answers - Author: P.F. Fourie - Published: 1987 - Page: 362

Nature in the Balance - Author: Rob Marsh - Published: 1991 - Page: 41

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1995 - Page: 129

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Published: 1992 - Page: 20

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Published: 1992 - Page: 24

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Published: 1992 - Page: 25

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Published: 1992 - Page: 31

Reptiles & Amphibians of Southern Africa - Author: Warren Schmidt - Published: 2006 - Page: 88

Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Rod Patterson and Anothony Bannister - Published: 1987 - Page: 29

Sasol First Field Guide to Snakes & other Reptiles of Southern Africa - 2nd edit - Author: Tracey Hawthorne - Published: 2016 - Page: 55

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 48

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 236

Southern Africas Threatened Wildlife - Author: John Ledger - Published: 1990 - Page: 66

The Reptiles of the Kruger National Park - Author: U. de V. Pienaar, WD Haacke and NHG Jacobsen - Published: 1983 - Page: 225

The Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa - Author: P. Briggs - Published: 2020 - Page: 374

Tracks and Tracking in Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Published: 2000 - Page: 24

Wild Issue 16 - Author: - Published: 2011 - Page: 26

Wild Issue 47 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 60

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 250


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