It’s a bit late as we were wiped out after the all day trash clean up, but it’s still Friday and that means it’s still day 8 of November Knowledge cool croc facts.
Crocodilians have one of the most efficient digestive systems known to man.
One of the reasons crocs are able to digest food so quickly is because of their unique heart and its ability to control the direction of blood flow.
Neurological control of a heart valve allows a croc’s blood flow to bypass the lungs and go straight to the stomach. Because of this, they can secrete gastric acid up to 10 times faster than any other animal.
Crocs are also known to swallow small stones and rocks which do not pass through the digestive system. This seems to aid in digestion and possibly help with balance in the water. But oddly enough, researchers have observed that crocs in areas that have no stones to swallow do fine without them, and their ability to digest food and balance in the water does not seem affected by the lack of stones.
As any researcher who has flushed the stomach of crocodiles knows, the digestive enzymes of crocodilians are incredibly strong and break down most prey rather quickly. Chicken bait in a trap swallowed tonight will be nearly fully digested by morning. Things like turtle shell on the other hand can take some time to digest, and because crocs stomachs tend to retain indigestible items, things like fishing hooks and plastics stay stuck in the stomach. This is why it’s so important we clean up after ourselves, for the sake of the crocs, and for the sake of all other life in the ecosystem.
Interestingly enough, the powerful digestive enzymes of crocodilians have a preferred temperature range for efficiency, and in colder temperatures food will actually rot in the stomach before it can be digested. Some species like the American and Chinese alligators might actually stop eating during the colder months of the year with adults being able to survive for months without food and in no danger of starving to death.