Most people see crocodiles as intimidating, dangerous animals. In this video clip, we see a covert crocodile suddenly rise from the water and devour a bat that was flying overhead. Let’s dive into the amazing hunting and eating habits of the crocodile!
What Do Crocodiles Eat?
Crocodiles are obligate carnivores. Their diet consists primarily of the flesh of other animals. They eat all sorts of animals, including insects, amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds, small aquatic invertebrates, and small mammals. Crocodiles can also be cannibalistic, with larger crocodiles eating smaller ones.
Crocodiles are scavengers as well, eating dead carcasses. They are also known to steal food from other predators. They occasionally eat fruits as well.
Since there are several species of crocodile, their diets can vary quite a bit. Most crocodiles are not picky eaters and will eat whatever prey is available. Typically, juvenile crocodiles eat a smaller variety of prey compared to their adult counterparts.
Freshwater crocodiles eat many invertebrates and vertebrates, with insects being their most common prey. They also eat frogs, lizards, crustaceans, turtles, spiders, birds, snakes, and mammals. Typically, freshwater crocodiles hunt small prey, although they are known to eat larger animals (such as wallabies) as well.
How Do Crocodiles Hunt?
Crocodiles do not eat very often. They are ectotherms or cold-blooded animals. They have a very slow metabolism, meaning they are able to survive for long periods of time without food.
On average, crocodiles eat about 50 full meals every year. Smaller crocodiles need to eat three or four times a week, while larger crocodiles can actually survive for approximately a year with no food.
Crocodiles hunt their prey by ambush. They are very effective hunters when they actually seek food. The vast majority of their hunting happens in muddy waters and/or at night. This makes it easier for them to remain invisible to unsuspecting prey until it’s too late.
Recent research has shown that crocodiles hunt in teams. They are expert hunters who often come up with collaborative strategies to snag their prey. For example, they will sometimes swim together to corner their prey. In one known case, a large crocodile scared a pig and caused it to run toward two other crocodiles who were hiding under the water.
In some cases, crocodiles will simply hunt their prey by stalking them from underwater. Some crocodiles ambush prey animals that are drinking from the edge of the water. Others, such as the crocodile in the video below, suddenly rise out of the water to grab animals flying close to its surface.
Once a crocodile has ambushed and caught its prey, it will drag the prey into the water and drown it. This makes the prey easier to eat. When the crocodile is eating, it bites off large chunks of meat from the prey animal and swallows these chunks whole.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mari Swanepoel/Shutterstock.com
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