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Don't house your mature crocodilians together unless you're prepared to find them mating. Crocodilians aren't the most discriminating of creatures, and will crossbreed readily with other related species.
Females build nest mounds in which they lay from a dozen to several dozen eggs. Most keepers agree that these eggs should be removed as soon as possible to increase the survival rate of a clutch, and placed in an incubator. Eggs are viable if you can see visible bands forming on them a few days after laying.
Don't even consider purchasing a crocodilian as a pet unless you have sufficient time, space and safety tools to deal with them when they reach adult size. A crocodilian under 11' can be safely handled using a snout rope, which is a tight noose around the jaws placed either by a snout pole (a hollow pipe with the rope running through it, the noose on one end) or thrown by a lasso. Additional ropes may be secured around the midbody (behind one or both forelegs) if the animal needs to be moved. The eyes should be covered with a towel or shirt and taped to keep the animal calm. For short distance moves (just out of the pool) they can be dragged; moderate distance moves (across park grounds) may require the animal be placed on a board and the board dragged by a motor vehicle. To get the animals into the back of a truck, a ramp may be used and the animal "walked" up it, dragged from the front by ropes and pushed from the back by handlers bearing the weight of the tail.
Don't try this at home. You need an experienced team of handlers to work with an adult crocodilian.
At Gatorland, a well known Central Florida attraction, the diet mix for the crocodilians is about 25% red meat to 75% chicken and other poultry product. Some calcium and vitamin supplements are also added.
The diet trick to making sure your crocodilian lives a long and healthy life is to keep the fat percentage low and offer enough roughage (fur, bones, intestinal contents, possibly even allowing animals to ingest gravel) along with the muscle meat. Supplementing a commercial diet with whole carcasses such as rats or entire chickens (not plucked or gutted) can help. Hamburger is bad; it is too high in fat and lacks vitamins and roughage.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|