The American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is a species of crocodilian found in the American tropics. It is the most widespread of the four extant species of crocodiles from the Americas. Populations occur from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern Mexico to South America as far as Peru and Venezuela. It also lives on many of the Caribbean islands such as Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Grand Cayman.
Within the United States, the American crocodile’s has a limited distribution of Puerto Rico and the southern half of Florida. The current US population, estimated at 2,000, represents a significant recovery from a few hundred in the 1970s.
The habitat of the American crocodile consists largely of coastal areas. It is also found in river systems, but has a tendency to prefer, not merely to tolerate, some level of salinity. Resulting in the species’s congregating in brackish lakes, mangrove swamps, lagoons, cays, and small islands. Other crocodiles also have tolerance to salt water due to salt glands underneath the tongue. The American crocodile is the only species other than the Australian saltwater crocodile (C. porosus) to commonly live and thrive in salt water. They are found on beaches and small island formations without any freshwater source. They are also found in hypersaline lakes.
The American is one of the larger crocodile species. Males can reach lengths of 20 ft. weighing up to 2,000 lb. On average, mature males are more in the range of 13 ft to 16 ft in length weighing about 880 lb. As with other crocodile species, females are smaller; rarely exceeding 12 ft in length.
This species has a more V-shaped snout, compared to other large crocodiles, which usually have a slightly wider snout. Adults have a uniform grayish-green coloration with white or yellow undersides. Juveniles have dark cross-banding on the tail and back. Despite their large size, American crocodiles do not regularly attack large animals, as most large crocodilians do. Most of their diet is Fish, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Like any other large crocodilian, the American crocodile is potentially dangerous to humans, but it is not a very aggressive species and attacks are rare.