Campbell, Howard W. National Fisheries and Wildlife Laboratory, Gainesville, Florida.
Cash, W. Ben Department of Biology, Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee.
Last reviewed:March 2021
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The common name used for the large aquatic reptiles included in the family Crocodylidae. Crocodile (see illustration) is the common name used to describe about 17 species of large aquatic reptiles assigned to the family Crocodylidae, which is one of the three families of the order Crocodylia (Crocodilia). In addition to crocodiles, the order Crocodylia includes alligators, caimans, and gavials (gharials). Like all crocodilians, the crocodiles are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Species occur in both saltwater and freshwater habitats. Crocodiles are generally carnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, fish, other reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Some of the very narrow snouted species are believed to subsist primarily on fish. Crocodiles are primarily aquatic and nocturnal, leaving the water only to bask by day or to build their nests. Some species construct burrows into the banks of rivers or lakes where they spend part of their time. See also: Alligator; Crocodylia; Gavial; Reptilia
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