African slender-snouted crocodile

Mecistops cataphractus 

The African slender-snouted crocodile lives primarily in freshwater rivers and sometimes- brackish waters in tropical Central and West Africa. It is a carnivore, eating crabs, fish, frogs, insects, shrimp and snakes. Crocodylus is derived from the Greek krokodeilos, which means pebble worm (kroko = pebble; deilos = worm). Cataphractus means clad in armor, derived from the Greek kataphraktos.

Crocodile behavior and facts

  • Its dorsal scales, on its back, or upper surface, are armored.
  • Its slender snout is ideal for picking prey out of small holes and crevices.
  • The crocodile swims parallel to the riverbank, preying on small fish in the shallows.
  • It is opportunistic; though it usually feeds on smaller animals, if a large animal presents itself, the crocodile will attack.

From birth to death

  • Nesting: During the rainy season, females use plant matter to build a nest, on a riverbank.
  • Crocodiles lay between 13 to 27 eggs, called a clutch.
  • Incubation: 110 days. The female remains close to the nest during this time.
  • Juveniles chirp upon hatching to alert the mother to help break the eggs and assist them.
  • Hatchlings disperse into the forest.
  • Lifespan: 50 years or more

Vital statistics

  • Length: 10 to 13 feet
  • Number of teeth: 64 to 70


U.S. Endangered, CITES App I

Crocodiles, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's crocodiles live in the Africa Rainforest. They're fed a diet of fish and rats. Their population in the wild is unknown, but it is thought to be declining, based on surveys. Crocodiles are sometimes hunted for their skins. You can help crocodiles and other animals by never buying products made from wild animal parts.

African slender-snouted crocodiles at the zoo


Lance is a male African slender-snouted crocodile born on April 11, 1990. He has a very low frequency growl he uses to communicate with females. It sounds like water going down a drain...


Morgan is a female African slender-snouted crocodile born on Sept. 22, 1986. She and Lance are often observed blowing bubbles from the corner of their eyes to equalize pressure while underwater...