Are Crocodiles Herbivores, Carnivores or Omnivores?

Crocodiles are carnivores. Although some of them eat fruits in the wild, and some even eat nuts, they cannot be classified as omnivores because they cannot survive on plants alone.

Scientists recently found out that crocodiles eat berries and legumes. The scientists found out about this because the crocodile excrements contained seeds. The researchers investigated 18 species of crocodiles and found berries, legumes, and nuts in their waste.

Are Crocodiles Herbivores

What is an omnivore, carnivore, and herbivore?

These three dietary classifications are sometimes confusing. People would naturally assume that an animal is an omnivore if it eats plants or meat sometimes. This assumption is not correct.

The dietary classification is not just about what it eats, but on what it eats to survive. For example, although crocodiles sometimes eat fruits, they cannot derive enough sustenance. Without meat in their diet, they will die.

On the other hand, humans can survive on either plants or meat. It is why there are people who are vegetarians all their lives, and some are meat-eaters who rarely or do not eat vegetables at all.

Then, the herbivores like cows and goats do not eat meat at all—they only eat grass. These animals are unique because they can process cellulose. As such, they can harness the energy that comes from plants.

The carnivores eat the herbivore, which is transferred to that animal. Finally, omnivores and humans eat both herbivores and carnivores. Humans also eat plant matter, but humans cannot digest cellulose.

Related Article: Are Crocodiles Smart?

Why do crocodiles eat fruits?

Crocodiles may eat fruits because they draw nutritional benefits, but this is a theory and not yet a fact.

What’s guaranteed is that this diet makes it possible for the crocodile to spread seeds to their territories.However, there are so many things that scientists are yet to uncover. For example, they do not know how crocodiles process carbohydrates from fruits.

The theory is that crocodiles are conduits for planting. The crocodiles are what scientists call seed dispersal agents. Since some crocodiles travel far and wide, with some crocodiles even crossing oceans, it is possible that they also disperse these seeds to places they traveled.

Related Article: Can Crocodiles Live in the Ocean?

What is the diet of a crocodile?

The diet of crocodiles is meat. They eat animals, and it is how they survive. On average, a crocodile eats 50 full meals per year. These meals are animals, not a plate of veggies.

Crocodiles are not picky eaters, either. They hunt what is available and feed on anything that moves. If food is scarce, they cannibalize.

Here are some of the things that crocodiles eat:

  • Mammals
  • Waterbirds
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Ungulates
  • Primates
  • Rodents
  • Otters and pangolins
  • Jackals
  • Bats and other flying animals

Crocodiles have a wide variety of diets. They also eat amphibians like frogs. In the wild, it has been observed that, like the keelback snake, some crocodiles have a tolerance to toxic animals like the cane toad.

When crocodiles hunt, they use the ambush method. They would submerge their body underwater, with only their snouts out. And when they swim, they do it with stealth.

Some of them will even dive, and the unsuspecting prey could not see anything. At the right time, they would lunge upward and then snap their jaws. If they capture the prey, they will drag it underwater until it drowns.

Crocodiles have powerful tails that help them propel upwards. When people witness this, the lung looks like a jump, as the crocodile goes out of the water vertically. It is how they capture prey from tree branches hanging over the water.

Related Article: Can saltwater crocodiles live in freshwater?

Can crocodiles digest bones?

Yes, they can. Crocodiles have powerful jaws and teeth, and they bite the prey into small chunks. While they do not chew like humans, they also do not swallow their prey whole.

After a meal, the crocodile’s heart directs deoxygenated blood to the stomach. This blood is rich in acidic carbon dioxide, which stimulates the digestive system to produce the highly acidic enzyme. It is this enzyme that allows the crocodile to digest bones.

Do crocodiles eat humans?

Yes, they eat humans, but not all species do this. Most crocodiles are afraid of humans, knowing that humans can hunt them down.

The two most dangerous crocodiles to humans are the saltwater crocodile and the Nile crocodile. Both of these are huge crocs, and they prey on humans. The saltwater is the biggest crocodile in the world, and an adult can grow more than 20 feet.

Crocodile attacks are commonplace in the world. However, most attacks are territorial in nature. Crocodiles will protect their nests and territories. Sometimes, some unlucky campers set up their tent next to a croc’s nest, and they get attacked.

The saltwater and Nile crocodiles are different. They actively hunt people if there is an opportunity to do. However, most crocodile species do not want to have anything to do with humans.

The global estimate is that 1,000 crocodiles die each year. These victims live in areas where large crocodilians also live.

Can crocodiles be herbivores?

No, crocodiles cannot be herbivores. While it can happen, it will take thousands, if not millions, of years to evolve their digestive system into that of an herbivore.

What makes herbivores different is that they can process cellulose. Therefore, they only eat things that need photosynthesis—plants—enough for them to survive.

Carnivores do not have an enzyme that can process cellulose, which is called cellulase. On top of that, carnivores do not have other gut bacteria and processes in the digestive system to break down cellulose.

Humans can process cellulose, but not for all plants. It is why humans cannot eat grass but can live on fruits and vegetables.

Summary

Crocodiles are officially carnivores, not omnivores or herbivores. A carnivore is an animal that will only survive by eating meat.

Crocodiles eat fruits and nuts from time to time, but they cannot survive on them. As of now, scientists have a theory that crocodiles are seed dispersal agents in the wild. However, there is much to learn about this eating behavior, and it can take years to find out how crocodiles process carbohydrates from plants.

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