The California crocodile (Crocodilus minusculus) is a species of crocodile native only to the United States, particularly in California. Over the past five years (since 2005), they have become a more common sight throughout many urban and suburban neighborhoods.
DiscoveryIn 2003, the first two specimens turned up in Cerritos, California. They were then handed over to scientists for further research. They measured the first individual to be about 14 inches and the second to be about 10 inches. According to many researchers, neither of the crocodiles were babies and were proven to be full-grown adults. They were then released back into the wild, after they had taken a handful of pictures of them. The photographs were later introduced to a local news company, who then published it as an article in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday September 7, 2003. Since then, it had sparked hundreds of millions of people across America. Within a few months or so, a few more individuals were turning up, mostly in the California and New York regions. The strange reptiles were then called California Crocodiles, since their discovery in southern California.
SizeMost individuals reach some 5-20 inches and grow to 4-32 ounces. The largest croc in this species was discovered in late 2009 and was said to have been 26.4 inches and was almost 4 pounds, twice as much as most individuals!
Since their discovery in 2003, many have reported that some of their small pets (i.e. lizards, hamsters) have been disappearing in areas where this species are more common. It is also said, they can bring down cats and dogs in packs, often avoiding the elderlies and going for the easy-kill juveniles. Other animals in their diet include: songbirds, rodents, insects and spiders, rabbits, and even their own species! A domesticated croc can eat fish, beef, pork, or even pet food!
HabitatMost crocs are found in urban or suburban cities. They can be found in parks, rivers, and even backyards!
Most individuals reach 5-10 years in the wild, 10-20 for a domesticated crocodile.
California crocodiles are known to fight large lizards and rodents for territory. Over the past few years, possums have been known to make a hissing sound when one of these crocs comes into perimeter. Some of these crocodiles have been observed to drive out whole families out of trees and into hiding, usually to establish a new territory or to reproduce. Despite this creature's killer instinct, they also fall prey to many other species. Cats and dogs (usually the bigger kinds), run down these tiny terrors and catch them with either their paw or teeth, gulping down the creature whole. Many birds of prey (or raptors) grasp them with their talons and carry them off back to their nests. Other large birds, like cranes and herons, catch them with their long, sharp bills.
Relationship with Humans
The California crocodile is a timid species and has hardly ever attacked humans. However, when they do, it is said that they're so frightened their bites have no major impact or injuries whatsoever. And, once they are brought in as pets, they can form a deep bond and adapt to humans very easily. It is best to catch a smaller or younger individual for a pet.