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Crocodilians are well adapted as predators. When in the water,
they swim casually using a gentle “s” motion of their
tail to propel them. They stay almost completely submerged with
only nostrils and eyes above the water, looking like a small log.
They may smell prey on shore from a great distance and swim closer,
with a final lunge that may carry the croc several times its own
length up onto the beach. If it gets a hold of any part of the animal,
it will win. It will pull the victim into the water where it drowns.
If it doesn’t get a hold, it may knock the animal over with
several blows of its head. In addition, crocs will sneak up on a
wading bird and as it takes off, the croc can leap out of the water
almost vertically. And if large game isn’t available, the
croc will use its tail to sweep schools of fish toward its mouth
and gobble up as many as possible.
As to diet, one book said adults will eat “anything they want.”
They regularly take down mammals that come to drink at the water’s
edge, like gazelle, zebras and wildebeest. They can crush the strong
bony shells of turtles. They may try to take a hippo or elephant
calf but the mother will be protective and have been known to crush
The Nile crocodile has a reputation
as the number one killer of beast and humans on the African continent.
A crocodile wouldn’t go out of his way to find a human victim
but they will take anything presented to them. A horrible incident
from World War II happened off the coast of Burma. A thousand Japanese
soldiers, fleeing the allied advance, tried to cross a mangrove
swamp at night. British troops reported the horrifying sounds, and
at dawn only about 20 were found alive. The crocs were simply following
their instincts and taking advantage of an easy meal.
Had I known all this, I might not have been so blasé in
my encounter with the alligator in Florida. My sister and I were
canoeing and we knew that alligators were present. The canoe rental
place had basically said not to worry, just keep paddling. We heard
a huge sound and both of us saw the alligator at the same time.
Fortunately it was at least 50 feet from us, on shore, but looking
Everything stopped, including my heart. It was a typical American
alligator, about 8 or 9 feet long, and I felt incredibly small and
insignificant. I said Bismillah and started to breath again and
we kept paddling. When we came back the alligator was gone.
This was a great gift. The opportunity
to see one of God’s amazing creatures in its natural habitat.
I’m thankful that I don’t live where I have to wash
my clothes in the same river where crocodiles lie in wait, but I’m
also thankful for the opportunity to see one and know a little bit
of that fear and awe.
Reptiles are awesome creatures, nearly 6000 different species,
so many variations. They walk on their bellies, they walk on two
legs, they walk on four. They are part of God’s intricate
interwoven plan on this earth. We like them or we fear them, but
we need to appreciate them. For their part, they just want to be
left alone, in their submission to God. Unlike dogs and cats, they
don’t want to bond with us or serve us; they just want to
be allowed to do their own thing. A naturalist, Henry Beston, wrote
in The Outermost House: “For the animal shall not be
measured by man….They are not brethren, they are not underlings;
they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life
and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”
How true, for God says in 6:38:
All the creatures on earth and all the birds that
fly with wings are communities like you. We did not leave anything
out of this book. To their Lord, all these creatures will be summoned.