Cuban Crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) - Wiki
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[Photo] Cuban crocodile, Crocodylus rhombifer. From the Wroclaw zoo image gallery
The Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) is a small species (2.4 meters average length) of crocodile found only in Cuba's Zapata Swamp and the Isle of Youth, and highly endangered, though it formerly ranged throughout the Caribbean.
This species has numerous interesting characteristics that set it apart from other crocodilians, such as its brighter adult colors, rougher, more 'pebbled' scales, and long, strong legs. This species is the most terrestrial of crocodiles, and also possibly the most intelligent. A colony of this species at Gatorland, Florida has also exhibited what is strongly suspected to be pack-hunting behavior, which has prompted much interest in the species, usually kept singly and especially so after such reports.
The Cuban Crocodile appears to favor freshwater habitat such as swamps, marshes, and rivers.
Small fish, freshwater athropods, and crustaceans make up the diet of young Cuban Crocodiles. Adult crocs feed upon small mammals, fish, and turtles. They have blunt rear teeth, which aids in crushing the shells of their turtle prey. Cuban Crocodiles also demonstrate the jumping feeding technique seen in other crocodilians such as the American Alligator. By thrusting with their powerful tail, they can leap from the water and snatch small animals from overhanging branches.
The Cuban Crocodile is an endangered species, listed on CITES appendix 1. Its restricted habitiat and range make it very vulnerable. Humans have hunted this species to near extinction. There is still much research to be done on the remaining wild populations of the Cuban Crocodile. The Cuban Crocodile is represented in captivity in the United States, where breeding projects are taking place. There have been problems in the past with hybridisation, which limits the pure gene pool of this species.
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