How to Tell a Male From a Female Crocodile

Written by laura wood
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How to Tell a Male From a Female Crocodile
Males tend to be longer than females in all crocodile subspecies. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The crocodile is a carnivorous reptile of the crocodilian family; several subspecies are found in freshwater and saltwater. The crocodile, which splits its time between land and water, has a long body that it uses to propel itself through the water. This meat-eating animal feeds on fish, small mammals, reptiles, crustaceans and birds. Although there are physical and behavioural differences between a male and female crocodile, some are noticeable, but others require close inspection of a crocodile's body to recognise.

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  1. 1

    Measure the length of a crocodile. The most obvious sign that a crocodile is male or female is body size: males grow larger than females. The extent to which the sexes vary in size depends on the subspecies --- for example, the male saltwater crocodile can be double the length of a female, but a male Nile crocodile is usually only 30 per cent larger than a female.

  2. 2

    Find the sexual organs. Locate the cloaca, a small vent on the underbelly of a crocodile. Gently use forceps on either side of the cloaca to open the cloaca. If the crocodile is female, a clitoris will pop out. If the crocodile is male, the penis will be found inside the cloaca.

  3. 3

    Study the crocodile's behaviour during mating season. The male crocodile bellows loudly, slaps its snout in the water, blows water out of its nose and makes a variety of noises to get a female's attention.

  4. 4

    Measure snout size. In some species of crocodile, females have a thinner snout and slenderer body than males.

  5. 5

    Look to see if a crocodile has laid eggs after mating; only female crocodiles lay eggs. A female will lay between 20 and 40 eggs once a year in a nest near a river bank. If a crocodile is seen fiercely protecting a nest, the crocodile is most likely female; she will guard the nest until the eggs hatch and then carry her babies to the water to feed.

Tips and warnings

  • Crocodiles are very dangerous beasts of prey. Do not approach a crocodile unless you are a fully trained professional.

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