This week, I want you to meet another different animal. Wait—I shouldn’t say it that way. I don’t want you to actually meet this one, just watch it with me from a safe distance. I hope you never meet a saltwater crocodile up close!
We’ll ride along in the Jeep and travel down to the Irrawaddy River delta. We’ll get close enough to watch them with these binoculars I brought along, but that’s all the closer we’ll get! Are you ready? Come on.
Crocodiles don’t start out big and scary-looking. When they first hatch, they are only about 8-12 inches long. But, they grow about one foot each year, and eventually, they can grow to be as long as twenty feet and weigh over one ton. They can live anywhere from 50 to 75 years. I’m just glad they don’t keep growing all of that time, aren’t you?
OK, we’re getting ready to stop the Jeep. Here, you take the binoculars first, and I’ll tell you what to watch for. Look over toward the edge of the water. Do you see anything? Look closer. He probably has most of his body under the water, with just his eyes sticking up.
Let me have the binoculars for a minute, and I’ll find him for you. OK, there he is. Take another look. (Click here to see the crocodile.)
He’ll hide like that until he spots his prey, usually just an animal stopping by for a drink of water. Then he’ll grab it with his jaws and hold it under the water until it is dead. Even though that sounds pretty disgusting, the crocodile is an amazing creature. When it is in the water, it uses its long tail to swim; when it is on the land, it walks on its four legs. Its backbone is strong enough to hold the crocodile up when he is walking, and flexible enough to allow it to swim well in the water.
You can find saltwater crocodiles in many different countries. You’ll find them all through Southeast Asia as well as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia.
Use this website to answer the following questions:
True or False:
1. Of all the species of crocodiles, the saltwater (or estuarine) crocodile is the largest.
2. It is common to find crocodiles that weigh more than two tons.
3. A crocodile is a herbivore.
Research challenge: What does the word thermoregulate mean, and how does a saltwater crocodile do this?
Here is a printable notebooking page to enjoy!