Get your teeth into this!
Tuesday 22 October 2002
Whipsnade Wild Animal Park hatches two dwarf crocodiles
Keepers at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park are snap happy, following the successful hatch of two endangered west African dwarf crocodiles. Currently measuring eight inches nose to tail and weighing in at 33g they could give Steve Irwin a run for his money!
The two crocodiles hatched on 19 September 2002 following the removal of their eggs for incubation, after they failed to hatch within the nest. The beautifully marked dark brown little snappers can presently be found swimming and showing off their numerous perfect white teeth in a tank within the Conservation Room in the Discovery Centre at Whipsnade.
Presently enjoying a diet of insects and chopped fish, the two crocs will gradually progress onto the culinary delights of mice and rats. When they are strong enough the two will be returned to their parents enclosure, where they will eventually grow to approximately six feet in length.
Robbie Hutton, Head Keeper at the Discovery Centre said, "We are delighted with the hatching of the two crocodiles, and are looking forward to re-introducing the pair to their parents in the near future. These animals are very endangered in their natural habitat, so for us this is a great conservation success. It won't be long though before we have to start watching the tips of our fingers!"
Often living up to 100 years old the endangered West African Dwarf Crocodile originates from Gambia, where they now inhabit very isolated watering holes in tributaries along the River Gambia. The predominant reason for this being mans destruction of their habitat.
The dwarf crocodile usually mate just before monsoon, to allow the eggs to hatch at the end of the season when there will be plenty of prey available for the youngsters. The female will usually lay between 12 and 24 eggs, which will be incubated over a period of 90 to 130 days in a nest made of rotting vegetation. The female will maintain a constant temperature in the nest with the addition or removal of matter. Both parents remain protective over their young until they are sufficiently confident to leave the group, protecting them from predators including larger crocodiles, large snakes and birds of prey.
Notes to Editors:
- The Discovery Centre gives visitors the chance to explore desert, marine and rainforest habitats and also to see conservation taking place within the Conservation Room
- Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide.
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