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Croc Family Values

The dry season is also the time for breeding. Despite their rather fearsome reputation, crocs do have a softer side! Most reptiles lay their eggs and leave them for good. Nile crocs, on the other hand, guard their nests diligently for three months and try to make sure their little hatchlings aren't dug up and devoured by hungry monitor lizards.

 

The eggs develop in a nest 50cm below the warm sand. The temperature at which the eggs incubate will determine what sex the hatchlings are: below 31 degrees Celsius will produce females; temperatures above 31 to 34 degrees will produce males.

 

After 3 months, at the start of the wet season, the hatchlings start squeaking in their eggs beneath the sand. This is the mother croc's cue to dig up her young, gather them in her mouth, and bring them down to the river. On the Mussicadzi River, in late November or early December, if you are very stealthy, you can see big groups of hatchlings (50+) hanging around their mother for protection. There are many predators that would like to eat them. But, as long as they stay close to Big Mama, they'll be ok!