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large, carnivorous reptilereptile,
name for the dry-skinned, usually scaly, cold-blooded vertebrates (see Chordata) of the order Reptilia. Reptiles are found in a variety of habitats throughout the warm and temperate regions (except on some islands), with the greatest variety in the tropics.
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 of the order Crocodilia, found in tropical and subtropical regions. Crocodiles live in swamps or on river banks and catch their prey in the water. They have flattened bodies and tails, short legs, and powerful jaws. The eyes, ears, and nostrils are located near the top of the head and are exposed when the crocodile floats on the surface of the water. The ears and nostrils have valves that close when the animal is submerged.

Most crocodiles are more aggressive than the related alligatorsalligator,
large aquatic reptile of the genus Alligator, in the same order as the crocodile. There are two species—a large type found in the S United States and a small type found in E China. Alligators differ from crocodiles in several ways.
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. The two forms are distinguished by the long lower fourth tooth: in crocodiles, but not in alligators, this tooth protrudes on the side of the head when the mouth is closed. Also, the snouts of most crocodiles are narrower than those of alligators.

Small crocodiles feed on fish and small aquatic animals; larger ones also catch land mammals and birds that approach the water. Members of some large species sometimes attack and eat humans. The female crocodile deposits her eggs, usually about 20 in number, in a nest of rotting vegetation or in a shallow pit on the river bank, and digs them up when she hears them hatching.

In most species the average adult length is between 6 and 10 ft (1.8–3 m). The largest crocodile (the saltwater crocodile) is often 14 ft (4.3 m) long and may exceed 20 ft (6 m) in length. The Nile, American, and Orinoco crocodiles are commonly 12 ft (3.7 m) long, and specimens up to 23 ft (7 m) long have been reported for the last two species. The extinct Sarcosuchus imperator, which lived during the Cretaceous period, may have approached 40 ft (12 m) in length. The smallest crocodile (the Congo dwarf crocodile) averages 3 1-2 ft (105 cm) long.

With the exception of the two African dwarf crocodiles (Osteolaemus) and the so-called false gavial (Tomistoma) of Asia, crocodiles are classified in the genus Crocodylus, with about a dozen species. The Nile crocodile (C. niloticus) is found in fresh- and saltwater throughout S and central Africa. In early historic times it ranged N to the Nile delta and the Mediterranean coast. It sometimes attacks humans, as does the saltwater crocodile (C. porosus), found on islands and in straits from SE Asia to Australia and Melanesia. The marsh crocodile, or mugger (C. palustris), is a freshwater species of India and Sri Lanka, regarded as sacred in some regions. The American crocodile (C. acutus) is found in fresh- and saltwater in S Florida, the West Indies, Central America, and NW South America. It does not attack humans without provocation. The Orinoco crocodile (C. intermedius) is a freshwater species of the Orinoco basin of Colombia and Venezuela. Two smaller species are found in limited areas of Central America and Cuba.

Crocodiles are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Crocodilia, family Crocodilidae.

See also gavialgavial
, large reptile of the crocodile order, found in rivers from Pakistan to Myanmar. Also called gharial, the gavial (Gavialis gangeticus) is distinguished from the crocodiles and alligators by its extremely long, slender, parallel-sided snout.
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A unit of potential difference or electromotive force, equal to 106 volts; used informally at some nuclear physics laboratories.
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for about 12 species of aquatic reptiles included in the family Crocodylidae.


An aileron speed brake used especially on certain types of jet aircraft. Also known as a crocodile.


feared as spirit of evil. [African Folklore: Jobes, 382; Mercatante, 9]
See: Demon


epitome of power of evil. [Medieval Animal Symbolism: White, 8–10]
See: Evil


symbolizes naughtiness and chicanery. [Jewish Tradition: Jobes, 382]


1. any large tropical reptile, such as C. niloticus (African crocodile), of the family Crocodylidae: order Crocodilia (crocodilians). They have a broad head, tapering snout, massive jaws, and a thick outer covering of bony plates
2. any other reptile of the order Crocodilia; a crocodilian
References in classic literature ?
We had exhausted the crocodiles, and begun with the alligators, when the garden-bell rang.
It isn't an alligator," said the Doctor--"it's a crocodile.
In ninety- nine cases out of a hundred a mortally-wounded crocodile can scramble to deep water and get away; but the Mugger of Mugger- Ghaut was literally broken into three pieces.
She could not say that she found the vision of herself walking in a crocodile with her hair down her back peculiarly unjust and horrible, nor could she explain why Hirst's assumption of the superiority of his nature and experience had seemed to her not only galling but terrible--as if a gate had clanged in her face.
The crocodile passes, but soon the boys appear again, for the procession must continue indefinitely until one of the parties stops or changes its pace.
Peter flung my arm," he said, wincing, "to a crocodile that happened to be passing by.
Not of crocodiles," Hook corrected him, "but of that one crocodile.
Some crocodile has feasted well," he said significantly.
As she swam, her mind, filled with the terrors of the night, conjured recollection of the stories she had heard of the fierce crocodiles which infest certain of the rivers of Borneo.
It is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour.
Crocodiles were seen basking in the broad blaze of the sun or plunging beneath the waters with the agility of lizards, and in their gambols they sported about among the many green islands that intercept the current of the stream.
snarled Eureka, arching her back until her hair stood straight on end; "it's den of alligators, or crocodiles, or some other dreadful creatures