The Nile, flowing northward over 4,000 miles, is the world's longest river. Counting its tributaries, the Nile passes through nine African countries, ultimately emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. Many groups of people have depended upon the Nile for sustenance throughout recorded history. And the river is also home to a diverse group of animals, including a number of reptiles.
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The world's second largest crocodile and the largest crocodile in Africa, the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), can "...reach a maximum size of about 20 feet and can weigh up to 748 Kilogram," according to National Geographic. This particular croc inhabits many parts of Africa, but the Nile River population had dwindled until recently, due to severe over-hunting during the mid-twentieth century. The Nile croc is an especially vicious carnivore. Its diet consists mostly of various fish species, but it will attack and consume "almost anything unfortunate enough to cross its path," according to National Geographic. The average life span of this giant reptile is 45 years.
The Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) is a large species of lizard that inhabits nearly all non-desert lands in Africa, including many parts of the Nile River Basin. It is also sometimes kept as a pet, however, and has then been introduced into the wild in various parts of the world, including southern Florida. The Nile monitor is grey, brown and olive-coloured, with yellow-orange stripes and spots. It can grow to over 7 ½ feet in length and weigh over 9.98 Kilogram. This carnivorous reptile is hard to tame and normally quite aggressive, feeding on many different types of small animals (fish, rodents, birds, other lizards, etc). With its strong jaw and sharp teeth, long, sharp claws and whip-like tail, this lizard can cause quite a bit of damage even to large animals that venture too close, including humans. The Nile monitor has an average life span of 15 years.
Nile Soft-shelled Turtle
The Nile soft-shelled turtle (Trionyx triunguis), also called the African soft-shelled turtle, inhabits deep, sandy-bottomed rivers and streams throughout various parts of Africa and the Middle East, including the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It has dark-brown to olive skin with yellow or white spots and three webbed, clawed toes on each foot. As it is a soft-shelled turtle, its carapace lacks scales, and is instead leathery and flexible. The Nile soft-shelled turtle has been observed to reach a carapace-length of 40 inches and to weigh 59 Kilogram, with a life span of approximately 50 years. It has a pointed, bony snout and is mainly carnivorous, feeding on fish and snails, although it has been known to feed sometimes on a wide variety of available meat and vegetable matter.
Snakes of the Nile
Many snake species make their home in and around the Nile River, including 15 different venomous ones. Some of the dangerous species are the black mamba, Egyptian cobra and saw-scaled viper. Benign (at least to humans) snakes live in the area, too, including the African egg-eating snake and sand boa.
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- Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection: Nile Monitor
- United States Geological Survey: Nonindigenous Aquatic Species: Varanus niloticus
- Netherlands Biodiversity Information Facility: Turtles of the World: Trionyx triunguis
- The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geological Sciences: Digimorph: Trionyx triunguis, African Softshell Turtle