African Dwarf Crocodile

African Dwarf Crocodile Osteolaemus tetraspis

Type of Animal:

Slow/light current bodies of water in covered/forested areas-swamps, rivers, lakes, pools, streams, mangroves/mangrove forest/mangrove swamp-also found in forests, riverbanks, caves, burrows, seasonal floodplains

W & C Africa

Adults dark/ black above & on sides, underside yellowish w/ black patches, individuals in caves often have orange patches, juveniles have lighter brown banding on body/tails & yellow head patterns, smallest of all crocodiles, heavily armored back/neck/tail, osteoderms on belly/neck underside, fairly broad snout, lighter banding fades w/ age, Congo Dwarf Crocs smaller than W Africans

Fish, crustaceans, gastropods, amphibians, insects, small mammals, reptiles (including smaller members of own species), millipedes, beetle larvae, spiders, scorpions, aquatic insect larvae, worms, birds, carrion

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, aquariums, breeding centers, & wildlife centers

Solitary or male-female pairs

Additional Info:

Male: Bull
Female: Cow
Young: Hatchling
Group: Pair
Male: 70-100 lbs
Female: 40-70 lbs
Young: 7 oz

15 weeks 

Life Span:
50-80 years

Body Length:
Male: 4.3-5.9 ft
Female: 3.3-4.3 ft
Young: 1 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 1.72-2.95 ft
Female: 1.32-2.15 ft
Young: 0.4-0.5 ft

Main predators of adults are leopards, rock pythons, & larger crocodiles. Birds, mammals, reptiles (including larger dwarf crocs), & predatory fish prey on young.
Sexually mature at 4-5 years old.
After mating, females lay 5-20 eggs in nest mounds made of rotting vegetation. Mom takes care of young after they hatch. Biparental care has been observed in this species.
Some scientists believe that 3 subspecies should be elevated to species status-West African Dwarf Croc, Congo Dwarf Croc, & Central African Dwarf Croc.
Threatened due to hunting for meat/skin, deforestation, habitat loss, persecution as potential livestock predators (they don’t eat livestock but will eat poultry), & agriculture.
Highly territorial w/ fights being fierce & sometimes fatal. Larger individuals eat much smaller individuals.
Spend more time on land than any other crocodile, sometimes spending considerable distances away from water at night.
Like most crocodilians, they’re ambush predators.
Usually breed in wetter periods.
Very shy & secretive in wild.

Fun Fact(s):
While one of least aggressive crocodiles, these animals can still be highly aggressive & dangerous, especially nesting females & individuals defending territory.
When hatching, young emit loud calls signaling for mom to unearth eggs & carries young in throat pouch to get to water.
African Dwarf Crocodile, Brookfield Zoo, Krekel, me

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