Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

When the waters subside in the dry season, Orinoco crocodiles retreat into burrows excavated into riverbanks (3). Breeding females excavate hole-nests on exposed sand banks, typically laying around 40 eggs. The female remains close to the nest site to guard it from vultures and tegu lizards (2). Hatching occurs 2.5 to 3 months later, which coincides with the rains that bring a rise in water levels, and females have been reported to protect pods of juveniles for up to 3 years (2).  Adults are opportunistic, feeding on a wide variety of prey that are either in or near the water such as fish, large birds and small mammals (2). Data on lifespan are extremely sparse but, like other large crocodilians, Orinoco crocodiles may live as long as 70 to 80 years (3).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

The Orinoco crocodile is one of the larger crocodilians (a group that also includes alligators, caimans and the gharial), with a relatively narrow snout and a minor swelling in front of the eyes (6). It is South America's largest predator, by mass, and males have been reported up to 7 m in length, although the maximum size recorded in recent studies has not exceeded 5 metres (3). Three different colour variations exist with the most common being 'Amarillo': a light tan body and scattered dark areas (2). In captivity, it has been noted that the skin can change colour over long periods of time (2); this phenomenon has been recorded in other species that can gradually change the amount of melanin in their skin (3).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

Continent: South-America
Distribution: Colombia, Venezuela, Lesser Antilles (Grenada), Trinidad ?, Tobago ?
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Peter Uetz

Source: The Reptile Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Historic Range:
South America_Orinoco R. basin

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

Severely fragmented populations are found in the lower reaches of the Orinoco River in Venezuela and Colombia (3).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Terrestial nest sites and basking areas.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Once associated with a wide variety of habitats (from tropical forests to the streams of the Andes foothills), this species has now been restricted to the Llanos savannah and associated seasonal freshwater rivers (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 21.8 years (captivity)
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

Source: AnAge

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Crocodylus intermedius

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Crocodylus intermedius

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A1c, C2a

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1996
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Crocodile Specialist Group

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s

History
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 06/02/1970
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Crocodylus intermedius , see its USFWS Species Profile

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR - A1c, C2a) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1), and listed on Appendix 1 of CITES (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

The Orinoco crocodile was hunted to the brink of extinction for its skin during the 1930s to 60s and the population has shown little signs of recovery since (3), although reintroduction programs are underway. Crocodiles could be found in large numbers around small water areas during the dry season, which made them easy targets for hunters (2). Today there are an estimated 250 - 1,500 individuals left in the wild (2). Illegal hunting for meat and for teeth (which are thought to have medicinal properties), along with the collection of eggs and juveniles remains the major threat to this species (2). Further threats are posed from continued habitat destruction, killing by local people, and from competition with the spectacle caiman (Caiman crocodius), which is found in the same area (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It is listed on CITES Appendix I.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Orinoco crocodiles are one of the most highly endangered of all crocodilians due to the small size and highly fragmented nature of their population (2). International trade in this species is banned under Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CTIES) (4), and it is protected throughout much of its range (3). These protection measures however, are largely ineffective and unforced and illegal poaching remains the principal threat to this species (2). In Colombia very little is known about the current status of the species and this remains a high priority for any conservation action plan (3). In Venezuela a reintroduction/ restocking plan has been developed and captive breeding is carried out at a number of sites (3). Effective monitoring of released crocodiles is required and protection measures need to be properly enforced, in order to help this species recover from such crippling over-exploitation in the past (3).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Orinoco crocodile

The Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) is a critically endangered crocodile. Its population is very small and it can only be found in freshwater environments in Colombia and Venezuela, in particular the Orinoco River and its tributaries. Extensively hunted for their skins in the 19th and 20th centuries, this species is one of the most critically endangered species of crocodiles. It is a very large species, in fact the largest species of crocodilian and predator in the Americas. Males have been reported up to 6.6 m (22 ft) in the past but such sizes do not exist today, 5.2 m (17 ft) being a more widely accepted maximum size. Males average at 4.1 m (13 ft) in length weighing 380 kg (840 lb), while females are slightly smaller averaging at 225 kg (496 lb). Sexual dimorphism is not as profound as in some other species. The coloration is light even in adults.

The biology of the Orinoco crocodile is poorly documented in the wild, mostly due its small population. It is thought to have a more piscivorous diet with an opportunistic nature resulting in a generalist predatory behavior. The Orinoco crocodile is an apex predator and will take the opportunity to prey on a variety of reptiles, birds and mammals, including caimans on occasion. The prey base is mostly made up of large predatory fish, challenging the general view by the locals complaining about the crocodile hunting local fish to very low numbers. Despite its large size, the Orinoco crocodile rarely poses a threat to humans, despite several reports. Reproduction takes place in the dry season when the water level is lower. The Orinoco crocodile is a hole nester, digging holes in the sand to lay their eggs. The female guards the nest and young up to several years.

Characteristics[edit]

The Orinoco crocodile can be recognised by its relatively long snout, which is narrower than that of the somewhat similar-looking American crocodile. This species generally has a pale tan hide, though at least three coloration variations are known, with some almost completely yellowish and some a dark brownish-gray. It has been noted that the skin can change colour over long periods of time; this phenomenon has been recorded in other species that can gradually change the amount of melanin in their skin. These crocodiles have dark brown markings, which present as more pronounced bands in younger specimens and as scattered markings on mature ones.[2]

Croc inter.jpg

Size[edit]

The Orinoco Crocodile ranks among the largest living reptiles as well as the largest predator in South America. Typically, males are 3.6 m (12 ft) to 4.8 m (16 ft) in length, weighing 380 kg (840 lb) to 635 kg (1,400 lb), while females are typically 3 m (9.8 ft) to 3.3 m (11 ft) in length, weighing 225 kg (496 lb) to 317 kg (699 lb).[3] The largest specimen reported was shot in 1800, and allegedly measured at 6.6 m (22 ft).[4] Due to extensive hunting for their skins in the 20th century, such giants do not exist today, and modern Orinoco crocodiles have not been reported to exceed 5.1 m (17 ft) in length.[5] It is the largest crocodilian in the Americas, while American crocodiles and black caimans approach similar dimensions, on average the Orinoco crocodile is slightly larger.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This species is restricted to the Orinoco River basin in Colombia and Venezuela. They have been occasionally reported on the island of Trinidad, but this has not been confirmed and witnesses may have mistaken an American crocodile for the rarer species. This crocodile was once thought to have once inhabited a wide range of riparian habitats, from tropical forests to the streams of the Andes foothills. Today, this species is restricted to the Llanos savannah and associated seasonal freshwater rivers.

Biology and behavior[edit]

Hunting and diet[edit]

The majority of the Orinoco crocodile's diet consists of large fish, their relatively narrow snout is ideally suited to minimize water resistance in capturing piscivorous prey. However, as an opportunistic apex predator virtually any animal living within its range could be considered a potential meal, such as reptiles, birds and mammals. Despite the fact that it has a rather elongated skull, the width of the base snout is wide, hinting to a generalist diet. It will stalk both aquatic and terrestrial prey. As a large adult, terrestrial prey may include, capybara, domestic animals, and even occasionally other large predators if the opportunity arises.[2] Similar to many of the larger crocodile species, the Orinoco crocodile has also been observed catching and eating smaller species of crocodilians, such as caimans and sometimes cannibalizing on smaller individuals of its own kind. There have been reports of attacks on humans, but this is highly unlikely that this is a common behavior, given the extremely low population level of the species and its relative isolation from large human settlements. Its large size may pose a threat but reducing the likelihood of predation on humans, it can be said that this species has a relatively less aggressive temperament compared to other large crocodiles.

Reproduction[edit]

When water recedes in the dry season, Orinoco crocodiles retreat to burrows they excavate into the riverbanks. The adult pair mates during the drier period of the year and usually 14 weeks after mating, the female crocodile will dig a nest and lay approximately 40 eggs. It is a hole-nester and usually makes the nest on a sand bank. The eggs incubate for around 3 months. During the night they hatch and call to their mother who digs them out of the nest and carries them to the water, which is considerably higher at this point. Young Orinoco crocodiles are often at risk from predation by American Black Vultures, tegu lizards, anacondas, caimans, coatis, jaguars and other carnivores, though these species are sometimes caught and killed by the defending mother crocodile. It has been reported that mothers have defended pods of juveniles for over 3 years, though closer to one year to independence is generally most common.[2]

Conservation status[edit]

The Orinoco crocodile is highly endangered due to excessive hunting for its hide. During the 1940s to the 1960s, thousands of these animals were slaughtered in the Orinoco River and the Llanos wetlands, and the species came very close to extinction. The Orinoco crocodile was given protected status in the 1970s but has yet to recover successfully. Today it is protected both in Venezuela and Colombia, and also included on Appendix I by CITES. In addition to hunting for its hide, more recent threats also include the collection of juveniles for sale in the live animal trade, pollution, and the proposal of a dam in the upper Orinoco River region. Another problem is the increased population of spectacled caimans, a smaller crocodilian that can outcompete the Orinoco crocodile for fish due to its much larger population and much more accelerated breeding rates.[2]

It is unclear how many individuals remain in the wild, but estimates range between 250 and 1500 individuals.[6] The population in Colombia is very low, with the largest sub-population estimated at around 50 individuals in the Casanare area. The largest sub-population in Venezuela is in Cojedes and Sarare, with less than 500 adults remaining. A number of other smaller sub-populations exist.[7]

In November 2007, 50 individuals were held in zoos registered by ISIS,[8] of which the largest population, 35 individuals, were kept in the Dallas World Aquarium. Additionally, a large number of individuals are held at captive breeding facilities in Venezuela. Since the early 1990s, a large number of hatchlings have been released both into private ranchlands (especially in the Llanos where nature oriented tourism is important for the local economy) and in national parks in Venezuela. While six Venezuelan captive breeding programs continue today, many are plagued by lack of funds or staff, as well as conflicts between private and state-owned facilities.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crocodile Specialist Group (1996). "Crocodylus intermedius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ross, R.P. (1998) Crocodiles: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Second Edition. IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  3. ^ http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/critically-endangered-orinoco-crocodiles-coming-to-gladys-porter-zoo-131866438.html
  4. ^ Greer, Allen E. (1974) On the Maximum Total Length of the Salt-Water Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Volume 8, No. 4 of Journal of Herpetology. pp. 381–384.
  5. ^ Wood, The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. Sterling Pub Co Inc (1983), ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9
  6. ^ Information on Crocodylus intermedius. ARKIVE.
  7. ^ IUCN/SSC Crocodylus intermedius. Crocodile Specialist Group – Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, 2nd edition. IUCN/SSC Crocodylus intermedius at the Wayback Machine (archived March 28, 2009)
  8. ^ Captives held in zoo's registered by ISIS.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Venezuela’s Fitful Effort to Save a Scaly Predator", The New York Times, December 25, 2013 
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!