Siamese Crocodile

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Profile

The Siamese crocodile is a small to medium-sized, freshwater crocodile living in Southeast Asia. These animals can be distinguished from other crocodilians by the ridges behind their eyes. Because this crocodile has its nostrils on the top of its snout and at the end, it can still breathe even when it is almost completely submerged in water. The Siamese crocodile is not well known, especially compared to more common crocodilians such as the American alligator or the saltwater crocodile. This crocodile’s scientific name (Crocodylus siamensis) literally means “crocodile of Siam.” Siam is the old name for current Thailand, a country where these animals now live. These crocs are also called Siamese freshwater crocodiles or Singapore small-grains. There is a population of crocodiles in Borneo that some people think is a Siamese crocodile population. Many people are unsure of the species, however, and it remains unspecified until more information can be gathered.

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Diet

Siamese crocodiles, which are carnivores like all crocodilians, eat a variety of animals. They feed mainly on fish, but they also consume prey such as reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and even carrion.

Size

Siamese crocodiles are medium-sized for crocodiles. Males, which are larger than females, can grow up to 13 feet (4 m) in length. The average, however, is closer to 10 feet (3 m).

Habitat

Siamese crocodiles live near water that they prefer to be still or slow-moving. rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, and swamps can all be home to these reptiles. They typically live in forests as well. During the wet season, individuals move across the landscape as the rains make most areas wet enough for these crocs to live in. One individual in Cambodia was tracked traveling 15.5 miles (25 km) during the wet season  before returning to its dry season habitat.

Status and threats

The Siamese crocodile, one of the most endangered crocodiles, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Critically endangered is right before “Extinct in the Wild” on this ranking. As with many animals, human encroachment on habitat is one of the largest threats. Human presence has forced these animals to the edge of their remaining range. The only remaining population stronghold for these animals is in Cambodia where human interference is lower than all other places. Even here adult females in particular are captured for use in crocodile farms.

Conservation

Very little data was had on Siamese crocodile population and distribution until very recently. In fact, in 1997, this species was reported to be almost extinct in the wild. Since then, much research has been done on this animal. In Cambodia alone there are an estimated 5,000 individuals. This is much higher than previously thought, yet it is still quite low compared to other animals. Although they are bred captive in some countries, they are then farmed for their valuable skin. There is still much work to be done to get these animals up to healthy numbers, but the outlook is much more optimistic than it was a decade ago.

Reproduction and young

Siamese crocodiles breed during the wet season, in the months of April and May. The female builds a big nest of plant debris and mud, in which she lays 20 to 50 eggs. She then guards the nest until the eggs hatch about 80 days after they are laid. The female helps the young hatch from their eggs and then carries them to the water. It is unknown if they demonstrate further parental protection after this point. At 10 years of age, the young are ready to mate.

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Sources:

Photo credits:

  • Siamese crocodile – Public Domain
  • Siamese crocodile range – Achim Raschka
  • Siamese crocodile head – Bernard DUPONT
  • Mystery animal – Mousse
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