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American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), yawning. Underneath the Crocodile Bridge, RioTarcoles, Costa Rica Photo by Hal Brindley

American Crocodile

(Crocodylus acutus)

Did you know there are crocodiles in the United States? Yep, in the southern tip of Florida! It’s the northernmost edge of the American Crocodile’s range, which reaches all the way down into South America.

The American Crocodile is supremely adapted to life in the water. Their eyes and nostrils are placed at the top of the head so they can swim and breathe and look around while almost completely submerged. They have a flap of skin that can cover the windpipe, allowing them to open their mouths underwater and still breathe through the nostrils. Even their ears can be closed to prevent water from entering! (see pic below)

The photo above was taken beneath the Crocodile Bridge in RioTarcoles, Costa Rica. The photo below was taken at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. This is pretty far out of the crocodile’s range, which is usually the Florida Keys and the extreme southern tip of mainland Florida. For some reason this individual traveled all the way up to Sanibel!

a photo of a crocodile's ear
American Crocodile ear! See the little slit behind the eye? They can close it underwater!