Herpetology of Ethiopia and Eritrea

Our records => Crocodylia, Owen, 1842

Crocodylus niloticus Laurenti, 1768

Crocodylus niloticus - Sai island, Nubia, Sudan
Crocodylus niloticus - Chammo Lake, Ethiopia

Short description:
A Largest African crocodile and one of the largest crocodile species in the world is Crocodylus niloticus. Males are larger than females, the maximum size of the species is 6 - 7 m, usually up to 5 m. East African subspecies are bigger than West African. Temporal pits on the skull are two, the upper one is smaller. The teeth are pointed, conical, sharp, and some of them slightly hooked backward. The large fourth tooth in the lower jaw fits into a constriction in the upper jaw. Crocodiles have a 9 cervical vertebrae , 13 - 15 vertebrals, 2 lumbar and 30-40 caudal vertebrals. The forelimbs are smaller and shorter than the hindlimbs.

In Ethiopia relatively abundant. A large population is on Lake Chamo, also in lake Abaya, in Rift Valley. They are also quite common in the Awash River Basin in Central Ethiopia, in small lakes of Hot Springs, Awash NP, further in rivers Baro and Akobo around Gambella near south Sudan border, in Wabe Shebelle river in Ogaden, or river Abay - Blue Nile. At the north in river Tekezze, and at south in the Omo basin, river Gibe-Omo. But also inhabit small lakes like Koka, Ziway, Besseka....., At the north, also lives in a border river Setit.
In Eritrea is the occurrence of the Nile crocodile smaller , mostly due to lower number of suitable locations. Some crocodiles population is in river Gash Barka, a tributary of Sudan river Atbara.
Nile crocodile is like all crocodiles by his way of life closely linked to the rivers or lakes, without whom it can not survive.

Crocodylus niloticus - Besseka lake, Ethiopia
Crocodylus niloticus - Gambella, Ethiopia

Most of its life takes place in water. It is in water where it hunts its prey, mates and finds cover and security. During the day and if their stomachs are full, crocodiles often bask in the sun, always in close proximity to water. The females excavate their nests on lake shores or river banks and lay large numbers of round eggs in them. They guard the nests fearlessly during incubation against predators, especially monitors. The mother assists the babies during hatching and carries them to the water inside her jaws. The hatchlings stay close to the mother for some time. They hunt insect and small vertebrates in the vegetation along the banks but avoid open water for some time. During the first weeks of their lives they have many enemies including big fish, birds, snakes, monitors as well as members of their own species. They are potentially dangerous to humans even thought attacks are rare. Only few attack has been documented in Ethiopia in the last several decades. The Nile Crocodile seems to be abundant in some areas but has been “successfully” eradicated years ago in others.

Crocodylus niloticus niloticus LAURENTI 1768 - (ET)
Crocodylus niloticus africanus LAURENTI 1768
Crocodylus niloticus chamses BORY 1824
Crocodylus niloticus cowiei (SMITH in HEWITT 1937)
Crocodylus niloticus madagascariensis GRANDIDIER 1872
Crocodylus niloticus pauciscutatus DERANIYAGALA 1948 - (ET)
Crocodylus niloticus suchus GEOFFROY 1807

Description original:
Laurenti, J. N.: Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austracorum, quod authoritate et consensu. Vienna, Joan. Thomae, 217 pp.

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