African Dwarf Crocodile

(Osteolaemus tetraspis)


African Dwarf Crocodile IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

The African dwarf crocodile has a very short snout, about 1 to 1.3 times as long as broad at the level of the front corners of the eyes. The surface is smooth, without noticeable elevations in front of the eyes. The upper eyelid is completely ossified and its surface smooth. The colour of the upper body surface is uniformly black in adults, and brownish and with dark crossbands in young specimens. The lower surface is light with dark blotches or uniformly black. The iris is brownish. It can grow up to a length of 2.3 m, but is usually about 1.5 m.

Did you know?
that the skin of dwarf crocodiles is considered to be of very poor quality, and consequently hunting pressure has been low? Actually, most reports indicate that the species is in no immediate danger throughout most of its range. In a few areas (particularly Gambia and Liberia), the local populations is, however, thought to be severely depleted and in danger of local extinction.


Name (Scientific) Osteolaemus tetraspis
Name (English) African Dwarf Crocodile
Name (French) Crocodile nain
Name (German) Stumpfkrokodil
Name (Spanish) Cocodrilo chico africano
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Africa
Habitat In swamps and areas of slow-moving freshwater
Wild population Approx. < 25'000-100'000
Zoo population 203 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

African Dwarf Crocodile


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 42 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Fritz Geller-Grimm

Why do zoos keep this animal

The African dwarf crocodile is rated vulnerable by IUCN and is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Several zoo associations therefore have initiated coordinated breeding programmes with a view of maintaining a viable ex situ population of this species. Zoos keep the African dwarf crocodile also for educational purposes and as an ambassador species for their threatened West and Central African humid forest habitats. It is a small species and can be nicely presented to the public also by small zoos with a limited budget.