Nile Crocodile

Crocodylus niloticusis

Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus niloticusis, is the second largest extant reptile species, about 5m long and weighing some 225 kg, having a lizard-shaped appearance, with a rough and scaled hide. This vicious and widely feared animal is largely restricted to living in tropical and sub-tropical environments such as the Afro-tropics of Central Africa. Lurking almost totally submerged in the water, they lie in wait for passing prey. Nile Crocodiles have been known to gallop at speeds of about thirty miles per hour over short distances.

Called Ooni in Yoruba, a name coinciding with what the crocodile, a sacred animal of the Egyptian city of On (Aunu) is called. This has been hypothesized as one of the several hundred linguistic links with the old Egypt from which the Yoruba is popularly believed to have originated. This becomes even more curious for the fact that Ooni is a name used as the title of one of the paramount chiefs in Yorubaland, that is, the Ooni of Ife, an apparent metaphor indicative of his royal splendor.

Crocodiles are cold-blooded and do not have constant body temperature. The core body temperature is built up to a maximum of 38°C by basking in the sun during daylight hour. Nile crocodiles modify their habitat by digging dens into which they retreat from adverse conditions such as temperature extremes. Mating takes place in the water. Amazingly, both parents partake in caring for the egg and females can help hatchlings emerge by carefully rolling and squeezing the eggs in her mouth. Incubation takes about 3 months. Average lifespan in the wild is 45 years.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer