Scientific Name: Osteolaemus tetraspis
Colour: Black, Grey, Yellow
Life Span: 40 - 75 years
Location: West Africa
Predator: Crocodiles, Large Birds and Mammals
Prey: Fish, Crustaceans, Frogs
Other Name(s): African Dwarf Crocodile, Black Crocodile, Bony Crocodile, Broad-Snouted Crocodile, Rough-Backed Crocodile
Size (L): 1.7m - 1.9m (5.5ft - 6.25ft)
Weight: 18kg - 32kg (40lbs - 70lbs)
Top Speed: 17kph (11mph)
Habitat: Rainforest rivers and swamps
Fun Fact: Digs burrows in river banks to rest!
Dwarf Crocodile Classification and Evolution
The Dwarf Crocodile is a small species of crocodile that is natively found in the rainforests of West Africa. The Dwarf Crocodile is the smallest species of crocodile in the world and is also one of the most distinctive with a short, broad snout and tough scales that cover their entire black body (most crocodiles do not have such armoured scales on their underside). These characteristics have led to the Dwarf Crocodile being known by a number of different names including the Broad-Snouted Crocodile, the Bony Crocodile and the Black Crocodile. There are two recognised species of Dwarf Crocodile which are the West African Dwarf Crocodile and the Congo Dwarf Crocodile which differ slightly in not just their location, but also in their appearance and behaviour. Although Dwarf Crocodiles are commonly found in parts of their natural range, their numbers in others have declined mainly due to habitat loss and hunting.
Dwarf Crocodile Anatomy and Appearance
The Dwarf Crocodile rarely grows to more than 1.6 meters in length with the largest known individuals reaching a maximum length of 1.9 meters. The body of the Dwarf Crocodile is black with a yellowish underside and is protected by tough, armoured scales, which are bony plates that not just protect it from injury but also prevent the animal from getting burnt by the hot sun. The Dwarf Crocodile has a number of adaptations that aid it when in the water including their vertically flattened, muscular tail that is used to propel their bodies when swimming and webbing between their toes which helps them to negotiate the slippery banks. Their eyes and nostrils are located on the top of their heads to enable the Dwarf Crocodile to both see and breathe whilst the rest of it's body is submerged, allowing it to both watch for prey and predators almost completely hidden.