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INSIDECOSTARICA.COM | COSTA RICA  NEWS |    Sunday 23 October 2011

How Long Can A Crocodiles Live?

In captivity crocodiles can live up to 60 years. In their natural habitat, rather, they have shorter life spans because they are prone to attack by pests and diseases.

Crocodiles, despite the claim by "Chito" having done so, cannot be tamed. Reptiles are very difficult to tame because they have a very primitive brain. They react instinctively to attack or defend. Domestication, if ever achieved, is a process that takes several generations.

The news of Chito and his croc, "Pocho" spread around the world several years ago and more in the past week with the death of the reptile.

Chito and Pocho were the best of pals, they put on shows for locals in Siquirres, in the province of Limón, and tourists alike. The international media fell in love with the unusual relationship between man and reptile.

So, how did Chito tame his pal? Why for so long this animal did not attack?

According to experts at Costa Rica's inBio Parque, the animal had a disease that allowed it to interact with a human.

In addition, the animal had been shot. Chito had found the animal by the side of a river wounded, deciding to take it home for its skin. But, under Chito's care the animal survived and thus began a friendship between the two.

The inBio experts say that the animal was blind and had something in the brain that did not allow it to behave like other crocodiles.

The experts believe that the bullet may have touched the brain of the animal, causing a clot that changed its behaviour and if the animal had been left or later released in the wild, it would have surely died.

Come January 2012, the world will take a closer look at the relationship of Chito (whose name is Gilberto Shedden) and Pocho, when a documentary in 3D produced by an African team, will be available to the public.

What's the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
Here's a bit of interesting trivia for you: All alligators are crocodiles, but not all crocodiles are alligators. Sound confusing? It's really not once you look at the taxonomy.

Both alligators and crocodiles are members of the reptilian order Crocodylia. But the families they belong to, Alligatoridae and Crocodylidae respectively, differ. Often, when people use the word "crocodile" what they really mean is "crocodilian." This term encompasses not just the common alligators and crocodiles you might already know, but also the lesser known Gavialidae family that contains the lone gavial, or gharial. All told, there are 23 species of crocodilians.

As a group, crocodilians are pretty impressive animals: Their lineage goes back 240 million years, meaning they've outlived the dinosaurs by a good 65 million years. Ideally suited for life in water and on land, members of the order can swim up to 32 km/h (20 mph) and run up to 18 km/h (11 mph). They're most at home in the water and can hold their breath for up to an hour. Eyes situated atop their heads enable them to keep a lookout for prey, while their powerful tails swiftly propel them through the water.

Crocodiles and alligators are top-notch hunters and will eat just about anything they can get their teeth on, from fish and turtles to monkeys and buffalo. With teeth specialized just for spearing, neither family even bothers to chew its food -- they swallow large chunks or the entire animal whole.

As if that weren't scary enough, crocodilians have incredibly powerful senses to detect their prey. Their eyesight above water is top notch, and thanks to vertical pupils that can open up extra wide to let in additional light, they also have keen night vision. And even though you can't see their ears, don't be fooled -- these small slits are sensitive enough to hear offspring calling from inside their eggs [source: San Diego Zoo]. Even their sense of smell is highly developed due to special organs in their snouts.

Impressive similarities aside, the difference between alligators and crocodiles can be found in key areas -- for one thing, "Alligator Dundee" just doesn't have the same ring to it.



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