Cuban Crocodile

This crocodile has the smallest range of any species. It is only found in northwestern Cuba. It was once found in other parts of the Greater Antilles, such as the Caymans and Bahamas, but is now extinct outside of Cuba. There are probably less than 5,000 Cuban crocodiles in the wild. After years of damage by humans, their swamp habitat has now been protected and hunting is banned. However, a large population is kept in zoos to ensure the species' survival.

Fossil records indicate that millions of years ago Cuban crocodiles preyed on the ground sloths. Today, they mainly eat fish and turtles, whose shells they crush with their broad back teeth, and also small mammals. They are unusually agile on land. Using their powerful tails, they can propel themselves out of the water to snatch prey off waterside trees.

The rare Cuban crocodile is of medium size. It has unusually large legs, with keels of sturdy scutes that project from the back of the rear legs.

Little is known of the breeding behaviour of Cuban crocodiles, but they are reported to both dig nest holes and build mound nests, depending on the availability of suitable material. The normal clutch size is between 25 and 35 eggs. Many eggs and hatchlings are lost to predation by various mammals.

Distribution: Northwestern Cuba.

Habitat: Freshwater marshes.

Food: Fish, turtles and small mammals.

Size: Up to 3.5 m (11.5 ft).

Maturity: Not known.

Breeding: Eggs laid in holes or under mounds.

Life span: Unknown.

Status: Endangered.

Gallery of Cuban Crocodile