Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Baby crocodiles make public debut

Paignton Zoo reptile keeper Sam Lomax with one of three tiny baby crocodiles (Paignton Zoo/PA)

Three tiny baby crocodiles which are only 11 inches long have made their public debut at a zoo.

The African dwarf crocodiles, which are around six months old, recently arrived at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park.

Keepers have yet to find out the sex of the animals, which weigh no more than 170g each.

Mike Bungard, curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at the zoo, said: "They may be small but they still come with a nasty bite.

"They have a mouthful of pointy, pin-sharp teeth, as young crocs tend to eat a lot of insects.

"This species is found in the Omo Forest area of Nigeria, where the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust has an environmental education project. It's good to link the collection to our conservation projects."

The African dwarf crocodile, or Osteolaemus tetraspis, from lowland regions of West and Central Africa, is classed as vulnerable.

They are mainly threatened by widespread and intensive subsistence hunting, the commercial bush-meat trade and habitat loss.

Dwarf crocodiles rarely exceed two metres in length.

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