Friday 9 December 2016

Make it snappy! Baby crocodiles swimming just eight days after hatching

Claire Hayhurst

Published 13/10/2015 | 15:42

An eight-day-old, 15cm long, West African dwarf crocodile on a rock after five youngsters hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens, after three months of natural incubation Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
An eight-day-old, 15cm long, West African dwarf crocodile on a rock after five youngsters hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens, after three months of natural incubation Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
An eight-day-old, 15cm long, West African dwarf crocodile on a rock after five youngsters hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens, after three months of natural incubation Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
An eight-day-old, 15cm long, West African dwarf crocodile on a rock after five youngsters hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens, after three months of natural incubation Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
An eight-day-old, 15cm long, West African dwarf crocodile on a rock after five youngsters hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens, after three months of natural incubation Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
An eight-day-old, 15cm long, West African dwarf crocodile on a rock after five youngsters hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens, after three months of natural incubation Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Five baby West African dwarf crocodiles are already swimming alongside their parents - just eight days after hatching.

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The youngsters, measuring approximately 15cm long (nearly six inches), hatched following three months of natural incubation at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

They are now exploring the Zoo's Reptile House along with their "protective" parents, under the close eye of keepers.

Tim Skelton, curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the zoo, said: "The mother has been with us for over 20 years and we have reared the father since we rescued him over 10 years ago from a customs confiscation at Heathrow airport, so it's great to see them rearing young so well.

"They are proving to be good and protective parents so we have let them get on with looking after the new arrivals with very little intervention.

"They seem to be doing well but we are keeping a close eye on them while they are still very young."

This is the third breeding success for the species at Bristol Zoo in the past four years.

Despite being a powerful predator, the West African dwarf crocodile is under threat due to hunting for their meat and habitat loss through deforestation and logging.

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