Living in the metropolis of Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay allows us to observe wildlife and interact with them. Elsewhere, they can only be met in zoos and documentaries.
The crocodile is one of the emblematic inhabitants of the region. Its presence indicates the health of the coastal ecosystem since, when it reaches adulthood, it becomes the predator of the estuaries. With this, it is assumed that the links in the food chain are available allowing the survival of the species.
Crocodiles are reptiles of amphibious habits and we can find them in estuaries, coastal lagoons, rivers and dams. They cannot regulate their body temperature and need to take sunbaths to warm themselves, so it is common to see them in the beaches of the estuaries and rivers, sunbathing. Sometimes we observe them with our mouths open because they need to regulate their temperature. They have scales all over the body, but the scales on the back are real armor; they are bony plaques through which there is a complex distribution of veins and arteries that allow them to conserve heat.
Their diet changes as they grow. When they are young and juveniles, they eat insects, crabs and fish. As they grow, they incorporate more elements into their diet such as birds, mammals and other reptiles. They are predators on the prowl, that is, they wait for their prey to get close enough to hunt.
They breed from February to May.
Males display territorial behavior and demonstrate power to ward off their adversaries; after copulation, the eggs are fertilized and embryonic development begins, which takes place inside an egg. Females will look for a suitable site on land to lay approximately 45 eggs, and will be aware of the nest throughout the gestation time. Females can be aggressive if they perceive that the nest is threatened.
The young will be born in summer during the rainy season, at birth they are vulnerable as they can be prey to adult birds and crocodiles.
If conditions are favorable, crocodiles will grow and develop to the maturity necessary to reproduce, around 12 years, and will reach sizes greater than 2 meters.
The species of crocodile that inhabits the bay is the river crocodile and we can see it in the estuaries El Salado, Boca Negra, Nuevo Vallarta, Laguna del Quelele, La Lancha and Carelleros, and in the Ameca River.
The probability of finding a crocodile is high
Importantly, urban growth has drastically fragmented the crocodile’s natural habitat. With this, the incidence of encounters with crocodiles increases, especially in the rainy season, since they find other areas to distribute, including the pools of hotels and villas, as well as golf courses and of course, marinas.
The possibility of encountering a crocodile is high; we are fortunate to have these animals as neighbors, but we must have considerations to avoid conflict.
The authorities have placed signs warning of the presence of crocodiles, so we must respect these ads, avoid getting into the water, as well as walk with our pets off leash in these places, as these are potential prey.
If we see a crocodile sunbathing we must maintain a distance of 10 meters and not disturb it.
We must never feed crocodiles; feeding wildlife is very bad practice.
If we find a crocodile on a street, in an area where it poses a danger to people or to the crocodiles themselves, please dial 911. The authorized personnel will make the proper handling of the specimen.
In short, we must respect the habitat of the crocodile and enjoy the encounters we can have with these magnificent reptiles since we definitely have to coexist.
Ocean. Isabel Cárdenas Oteiza
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