Their as old as dinosaurs and found all over the world, but how much do you really know about the grey, toothy beast?
1. Not a Gator
Unlike alligators which are less aggressive and only found in the US and China, fight-ready crocodiles can be found all over the world. Both prefer fresh water rivers, but crocodiles are much more likely than their alligators to be found in salty waters.
2. Move Over Phelps
Crocodiles are wicked fast swimmers. With the help of their mighty tails, the animals can reach speeds of more than 40 k/h. To put that in perspective, Glen Speer of Connecticut made the Guinness Book of World Records in 1997 at a mere 2.29 m/s or 8.2 k/h.
3. Crying Crocodile Tears
When crocodiles eat, their eyes bubble and froth. This phenomenon led to the old idiom “crying crocodile tears,” meaning someone is displaying fake sadness.
4. Old Tenants
Rio Tarcoles just outside of Puntarenas has long been known for its large crocodile population. In fact, the local indigenous group, the Huetares, used to call the area Carara meaning “crocodile” and indicating the animal’s presence there since at least pre-Colombian times. That’s nothing however, compared to their presence elsewhere; paleontological records reveal crocodiles first appeared on earth over 200 million years ago.
5. Crocodile Man
In 2013, NatGeo made a Costa Rican man famous as “The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles.” Gilberto “Chito” Shedon won the honor by actually befriending an injured croc named Pocho. Once Pocho was healthy, Chito tried several times to reintroduce him to the wild, but each time Pocho came back until he eventually was considered part of the family. Pocho and Chito performed tricks for four years until shortly after the NatGeo’s filming, Pocho died of natural causes. By this time, Pocho was such a beloved community member that his body was carried in a funeral procession throughout the canton.
6. The Fight for Life
If you ever come to meet one, chances are that crocodile is older than you. About 99% of crocodile offspring are prey to large fish, herons, monitor lizards and other adult crocodiles. Those that make it, however, can live up to 80 years.
7. Say Cheese
No, that croc is not smiling at you. Crocodiles don’t have sweat glands. Instead, they release heat through their mouth.
Still, you should definitely stay clear of their grin. Crocodiles have the strongest bite of any animal in the world.
9. All Shut Up
Despite crocodiles’ powerful chomp, the muscles used to open their jaw are not nearly as strong. In fact, it doesn’t take too strong of a person to be able to hold a croc’s mouth shut with his or her bare hands.
10. See Them Live
You too can get up close and personal with a croc — from the comfort of a large and secure riverboat of course! Many companies offer crocodile and birding safaris along Rio Tarcoles. For more information on the tours, transportation and nearby places to stay, contact Costa Rica Gurus.