Morelet crocodile in the Chiquibul
The Chiquibul is best known for its macaws but there are a diverse number of other amazing wildlife species. But no need to be afraid – since wild animals are traditionally not aggressive unless you bother or threaten them. This is the morelet crocodile. Due to the dam structure in the Chalillo Lake, this is but one of the species that has been increasing in numbers.
Morelet’s Crocodile are generally limited to a few areas in the coastal lowlands of Belize. They have been seen at the higher elevations of southern Belize. These often shy and timid crocodiles were once heavily hunted in Belize for its hide; and, their numbers have rebounded after the passing of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The Morelet’s Crocodile preys on aquatic invertebrates, fish, small mammals and birds. Morelet's Crocodiles usually grow to about 3 meters in length – it is the smallest of the two crocodiles species living in Belize.
The Morelet's crocodile inhabits freshwater rivers, swamps, ponds and lakes in forested areas found in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.
The Morelet's crocodile is a modest size reptile reaching 300 cm in length and can weigh up to 58000 g. It is dark greyish-brown in color with dark spots and bands on the body and tail. Juveniles are brighter yellow in color with black banding. The crocodile has a long tail and short legs which makes it an excellent swimmer. Its iris is silvery brown in color protected by a special and clear eyelid called the nictitating membrane; this gives the crocodile the ability to see underwater.
The Morelet's crocodile prefers to be in the water, but can also travel on land. It is a nocturnal and carnivorous reptile, which feeds on aquatic invertebrates, small mammals, reptiles, fish and birds. Its body scales have sense organs that detect salinity pressure and vibrations when submerged in the water.
Many have seen the crocodile with its mouth wide open and it may seem aggressive but that is how it cools off, as they sweat through their mouth.
Photograph by FCD Belize
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