Wild Fact #864 – The Mysterious Crocodile – Nile Crocodile

Nile Crocodile - Photograph by Chris Johns

I am not sure what animal today’s post will be about but I can tell you that I am pretty excited to pass on this information.  I know you have probably read the title and think that the post is about the Nile Crocodile, however, I am actually going to talk about the “Cave Crocodiles” which are most likely a subspecies of the Nile Crocodile.

The locals in Madagascar near Ankarana Nature Reserve have long known about crocodiles that live hundreds of feet below ground.  In 2003, Scientists managed to go down there and find out if their were indeed crocodiles living in underground caves.  Of course, the locals were right and there are numerous crocodiles living below the nature reserve.  The Nile Crocodile is a large croc that can be over 16 feet in length.  There have been reports that these Cave Crocodiles can get up to 20 feet long.  Like most reptiles, crocodiles depend on the sun to warm them up enough so they actually have enough energy to eat or do anything for that matter.  I may not be a genius but I don’t think there is much sunlight hundreds of feet underground, so why are they there and how do they survive?

Those are both excellent questions which I don’t have definite answers for as of yet but I have a few ideas.  First, why are they there? The normal Nile Crocodiles are feared and hunted by man quite frequently since they destroy livestock, etc. It is believed that these Cave Crocodiles went undergound to escape.  Whether it was to protect themselves from human or some other force, I don’t know.  But I can tell you that they managed to survive underground leading to generations of cave crocodiles (I couldn’t make up a better example of “Survival of the Fittest”). So lets assume that they went underground because of a serious threat and ended up surviving.  How did they manage to survive? Crocodiles are able to survive up to a year on one meal alone since they can consume up to 20% of their body weight at one time.  It is believed that they will leave their protected shelters to grab a bite to eat before returning and surviving for the rest of the year on that meal.  I wonder if they are able to go through the Drive Thru to speed things up?  Yes, I will have 25 Cattle Happy Meals and a Large Coke!

I just wanted to make you all aware of these incredibly unique crocodiles living underground in Madagascar.  I guess this is just one more reason to take a trip there! I highly recommend reading this National Geographic Article about the Cave Crocodiles at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/06/0620_030620_cavecrocs.html

That does it for me!  See Ya Later, Alligator……………After NILE Crocodile!

Brady Barr with a captured Cave Crocodile beneath the Ankarana Nature Reserve in Madagascar. Photograph copyright Brady Barr/NGT&F

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