We’re excited to announce the newest addition to our up-close animal program family: siblings Nigel and Skeeter, a pair of West African Dwarf crocodiles – the smallest crocodile species in the world. Visitors have the chance to meet Nigel and Skeeter during random daily appearances, between 10:30 am – 3:30 pm at our Irazu Falls up-close stage (Zone A).
The pair, who hatched in August, are 6 months old. And while at first glance it may seem that they’re practically identical, don’t be fooled! Nigel is the larger of the two at 14” and 161 grams, while Skeeter is a wee bit smaller and stockier at 13 ¾” and 168 grams.
For Adventure Aquarium’s biologists, it’s easy to tell the siblings apart based on markings on their skin. Nigel has a small “M”-shaped stripe on its tail, while Skeeter has straight yellow stripes on its shoulders. Over time, as they transition out of their juvenile stage, these yellow stripes will fade to a grayish color.
Just juveniles, Nigel and Skeeter still have a lot of growing up to do! Adult Dwarf crocodiles can reach up to 5-6 feet long and can weigh between 40-70 pounds. And with an average lifespan between 50-100 years old, the pair will likely be around for a long time.
Dwarf crocodiles inhabit swamps and other areas of slow-moving freshwater in rainforests in their native western Africa region. And while younger crocs face predators such as other reptiles, birds and some mammals; adult Dwarf crocodiles – believe it or not – must deal with humans as their number one predator thanks to hunters seeking them for skin to make purses, wallets, handbags and belts. Because of this, they are currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).