African Slender Snouted Crocodile Fact File


The slender snouted crocodile is named for its slender snout which is specialized to help with eating fish. They can also use it to probe riverbanks to help find prey among exposed tree roots.

Inside the slender snout they have 64 to 70 teeth.

These crocodiles are highly variable in their coloration. They have a body covered with scales that vary from brown to a greyish green in color. This is patterned with black spots and stripes. On the underside their scales are cream colored.

To help with staying hidden the eyes, ears and nose sit on top of the head to allow them to hear and see while the rest of their body is submerged under the water.

African slender snouted crocodiles will reach a length up to 4m (13ft) long. An average weight for this species is up to 230kg (500lbs).


Like all crocodilians the African slender snouted crocodile is a carnivore. The main component of their diet is fish but they also eat aquatic invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles such as snakes. They will also opportunistically eat larger animals which they catch at the waters edge when they come for a drink.

They will sit still in the water and wait for food to come to them before pouncing. They may also swim parallel to a riverbank and trap fish in shallow water where they are easier to trap and thus eat.

African slender snouted crocodile

Scientific Name

Mecistops cataphractus

Conservation Status

Critically Endangered


230kg (500lbs)


4m (13ft)


Over 50 years



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Africa is the native home of the slender-snouted crocodile. Here they can be found in the following countries - Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

They are know to be extinct in Chad and may possibly be extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.


African slender-snouted crocodiles are mostly found in forested rivers but they will also make use of other well-vegetated water bodies such as lagoons. They also make use of gallery forest within savanna woodland.

With the expansion of humans throughout their range they will make use of man made water bodies such as reservoirs.

They are only recorded in freshwater habitats.

African slender snouted crocodile


African slender-snouted crocodiles come together in February and March to mate.

Females will lay their eggs at the beginning of the wet season. They build a mound of organic matter in to which they can deposit between 13 and 27 eggs. Relative to the size of the mother they lay large eggs.

These eggs incubate for between 90 and 100 days. During this time the vegetation in the mound will decay and this heats up the eggs. The female will stay close by during the incubation to ensure the eggs are safe.

At the end of the incubation the hatchlings will begin to chrip and the mother crocodile will dig the nest open and help the babies out of their eggs.

The female will watch the hatchlings for a short period till they are ready to survive on their own.

Hatchlings will feed on small fish and invertebrates.

Sexual maturity is reached between 10 and 15 years old.


Slender snouted crocodiles are one of the few members of the crocodilian family which will climb trees.

These animals are considered one of the most vocal crocodilian species. They will growl and bellow at other crocodiles with a banging sounds which sounds like a car backfiring.

African slender snouted crocodile

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the African slender-snouted crocodile tend to only affect them when they are young. Hatchlings may be taken by soft-shell turtles. Adults are large enough to not have many predators.

Populations of the African slender-snouted crocodile have declined to a point where they are now considered extinct in some areas.

Humans have reduced their population through overfishing which reduces availability of the prey items they feed on, habitat modification and hunting for the bushmeat trade and for the crocodile skin trade.

Quick facts

Their species name 'cataphractus' translates as pebble worm, clad in armor.

This species is also known as the African gharial, long-nosed crocodile and African sharp-nosed crocodile.

African slender snouted crocodile

Photo Credits


By Thesupermat - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Middle One

By Tim Strater from Rotterdam, Nederland - Pantserkrokodil, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Middle Two

By Tim Strater from Rotterdam, Nederland - Pantserkrokodil, CC BY-SA 2.0,


By Photo by David J. Stang - source: David Stang. First published at, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Woodward, J., Dennis-Bryan, K. and Walerzcuk, V., 2016. Knowledge Encyclopedia Animal!. 1st ed. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley.

Shirley, M.H. 2014. Mecistops cataphractus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T5660A3044332. Downloaded on 31 December 2020. 2021. Slender-Snouted Crocodile | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 January 2021].

Zoo Atlanta. 2021. African Slender-Snouted Crocodile - Zoo Atlanta. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 January 2021].

Baltimore, T., 2021. African Slender-Snouted Crocodile | The Maryland Zoo. [online] The Maryland Zoo. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 January 2021].

Oregon Zoo. 2021. African Slender-Snouted Crocodile. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 January 2021]. 2021. Crocodilian Species - Slender-Snouted Crocodile (Mecistops Cataphractus, Crocodylus Cataphractus). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 January 2021].

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