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Simpson Street Free Press

African Dwarf Crocodile Is the World’s Smallest

All crocodiles are big and scary, right? Not this one, the African dwarf crocodile is just five feet long, making it the smallest crocodile species.

Osteolaemus Tetraspis or the African dwarf crocodile has many names such as the Black crocodile, the broad-nosed crocodile, and the Dwarf crocodile. These crocodiles are covered by black bony plates that form coarse armor on their skin. They also have yellow underskins and blunt short muzzles. The hatchlings are identified by light brown stripes on their tail and body and yellowish markings on their head.

Dwarf crocodiles are carnivores and solitary hunters. They mainly hunt during the night, preying on small animals such as crabs, insects, snakes, and lizards. Black crocodiles are cold-blooded; they constantly have to maintain their body temperature. To stay cool in the heat, the crocodile will lay in the water and ambush any prey that stumbles on its path. In the cold, they usually tend to sunbathe.

The Dwarf crocodile lives throughout the sub-saharan regions of west-central Africa southern Senegal to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reaching as far south as northern Angola. Their primary habitat is in the rainforest river banks, where they spend their days resting in burrows with several meter-long entrance and exit tunnels. There they inhabit dense swamps, rivers, and slow-flowing currents.

The African dwarf crocodile is one of the most interesting crocodiles in the world. Their small size sets them apart from the rest of the crocodile species.

[Sources: San Diego Zoo;; National Geographic]

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