This page contains a list of crocodiles in Africa, with pictures, facts and figures. You can see more incredible African animals here: African Animals List.
The crocodile is one of Africa’s most famous animals. This fearsome aquatic reptile is known for its powerful jaws and explosive ambush attacks.
The crocodile is neither furry nor cute, and is often portrayed as the ‘bad guy’ in nature documentaries, leaping out at unsuspecting zebras or migrating wildebeest.
Although it does have a bit of an image problem, the crocodile plays a vital role in the African ecosystem and several species are currently threatened, with one, the slender-snouted crocodile, being rated ‘critically endangered’ by the IUCN.
Crocodiles are hunted for bushmeat and for their skins. They are also threatened by growing human incursion into their natural habitats.
Let’s find out more about African crocodiles …
List of Crocodiles in Africa
The four species of crocodile found in Africa are:
- Slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus)
- Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)
- West African crocodile (Crocodylus suchus)
- Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)
Scientists used to think that there were only three types of crocodile found in Africa: the slender-snouted crocodile, Nile crocodile, and Dwarf crocodile.
Recent studies found that there were two types of Nile crocodile, and that they were sufficiently different to one another to be considered separate species. The smaller species is now known as the West African crocodile.
It doesn’t end there. Other studies have found there to be three species of dwarf crocodile, and possibly two species of slender-snouted crocodile.
This means that there may be as many as seven species of crocodile found in Africa!
On this page, we’ll find out about the four main species, and we’ll also take a look at the other, recently discovered, species.
Slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus)
- Medium sized
- Fish eater
- Conservation status: Critically endangered
The slender-snouted crocodile is a medium-sized crocodile that is found in rivers and lakes in African forests. As its name suggests, it can be distinguished from other species by its thin mouth parts. It mainly feeds on fish, but its diet also includes birds, mammals, turtles and snakes.
The slender-snouted crocodile grows to around 2.5m (8.2ft.) in length and 325kg (716lb) in weight. Larger specimens up to 4m (13ft.) are sometimes found. Males are larger than females.
There are two separate colonies of slender-snouted crocodiles. One is found in West Africa, the other in Central Africa. Some scientists now think that they should be considered to be two different species.
The slender-snouted crocodile is critically endangered. It is hunted by local people for bushmeat and for its skin. It is also affected by over fishing and habitat loss, and its future is far from secure.
Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)
- Biggest crocodile in Africa, 2nd biggest croc in the world (only the saltwater crocodile is bigger)
- Most common crocodile in Africa
- Conservation status: Least Concern
The Nile crocodile is the biggest crocodile found in Africa. It’s also the most common, and its conservation rating is ‘Least Concern’. It is found in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa (the area south of the Sahara desert).
The Nile crocodile grows up to 6m (19ft.) in length, and exceptionally large specimens can weigh over 1,000 kg (2204lb). However, most Nile crocodiles are substantially smaller.
The Nile crocodile is an apex predator, with no natural predators. It is an ambush hunter, typically lying in wait in the water with only its eyes and nostrils above the surface. When an animal ventures too close to the water’s edge, the crocodile launches an explosive attack, dragging its victim into the water with its powerful jaws.
West African crocodile or Desert Crocodile (Crocodylus suchus)
- Only recently recognized as being a separate species to the Nile crocodile
- Also known as the ‘desert crocodile’
- Conservation status: Not assessed
The West African crocodile is also known as the desert crocodile. It is found further west and in drier habitats than the Nile crocodile.
French naturalist Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire named Crocodylus suchus in the early 19th Century, suggesting that it was a separate species to the Nile crocodile. It is only after recent study that this distinction has been recognized.
Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)
- Also known as the African Dwarf Crocodile, or the West African Dwarf Crocodile.
- Smallest crocodile species in the world
- Conservation rating: Vulnerable
The dwarf crocodile is also known as the African Dwarf Crocodile, or the West African Dwarf Crocodile. It is the smallest species of crocodile not only in Africa, but also in the world.
The dwarf crocodile grows to around 1.6m (5ft.) and weighs up to 32kg (70lb), although larger specimens are found. The adult is black on its back and sides, and has yellow and black undersides. Its skin is heavily armored with hard, bony deposits called osteoderms.
The dwarf crocodile is found in several sub-Saharan countries in western Africa. It prefers a forest habitat, and will leave the water to feed. Its diet consists of fish, amphibians and crustaceans.
Recent studies suggest that three populations of dwarf crocodile are sufficiently different to be considered as separate species.
The dwarf crocodile is rated Vulnerable by the IUCN. Threats include being hunted for bushmeat, and habitat loss due to human incursion in its range.
Crocodiles In Africa: Conclusion
We hope that you have enjoyed finding out about the crocodiles found in Africa. Crocodiles may not be cute and cuddly (in fact they’re the opposite!), but they play a vital role in the African ecosystem and it would be a tragedy if a species was allowed to become extinct due to the actions of humans.