African Dwarf Crocodile
Ostelaemus tetraspis tetraspis

CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Crocodylia
FAMILY: Crocodylidae

Very small species -- up to 6 feet

West Africa (tropical)

Swamps and slow moving overgrown streams in the tropical rainforests

Wild - Small mammals, rodents, fish, snakes, birds
Zoo - Fish, chicken, chunk meat

Young are prettily marked; black background with red-yellow cross ban; black and yellow spots mark the central surface. Adults are uniformly black and resemble the American alligator.


  • Nocturnal
  • Timid, but are capable of relatively speedy retreat from danger.
  • Snout is conspicuously short and upper eyelid, almost entirely ossified, has a smooth surface.
  • It does not bask for long periods and excavates burrows near water, therefore there is little information on populations remaining.
  • Poikilothemic -- cold blooded.

ENDANGERED -- threatened by hide-hunting and habit destruction; also used locally as a food source. Also were available for many yeas in the exotic animal trade. U.S. Endangered Species legislation stopped that.