Do Crocodiles Feel Pain? (Explained)

Crocodiles are some of the strongest predators in the entire world. They have minimal predators, aside from humans, and are aggressive.

Crocodiles have tough, thick, armored skin and scales, also known as scutes. These scutes are very sensitive. While they are more resilient to attacks because of their skin, they still feel pain when attacked.

These large reptiles are covered in concentrated colored domes dotted across their skin. This is what makes them feel pain and sensitivity.

How Do Crocodiles React To Pain?

Crocodiles aren’t vocal animals. They can’t walk up to us and let us know they are in pain, so how do they react when in pain?

Crocodiles shift their behaviors and mood when in pain. It’s common to see sick or injured crocodiles in zoos and animal facilities reacting with irritation or aggression.

They are always aggressive, but if they are more sensitive to noise, touch, and sight, this could be a sign they are in a lot of pain.

Zoos that care for alligators and crocodiles look for any signs of a bacterial infection or gashes along their skin. 

Do Crocodiles Feel Emotion?

What about emotions? Crocodiles are intelligent reptiles that shower their mates with affection as a mating ritual.

According to a literature review, crocodiles can feel many emotions. They are highly social and hierarchical animals. 

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This is different from what scientists previously believed about reptiles, likely because reptiles in captivity don’t have the right vitamins or nutrients to thrive.

Crocodiles Growing Back Limbs: Fact vs. Fiction

Photo: Matt Buck / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

You’ve likely heard the rumor that crocodiles can grow back their limbs, but is this true? No, crocodiles can’t grow back their limbs. This is only common in some lizard species when their tails fall off. 

While the ancestors of alligators could regrow limbs, only young crocodiles and alligators can regrow their tails up to 9 inches. However, this ability is limited to their tail and is a recent finding.

If a crocodile loses a leg, it will live the rest of its life without one. It will not grow back.

Crocodile Skin’s Strength And Sensitivity 

A crocodile’s skin is strong. It’s made up of scales, or scutes, with little concentrated dots, known as touch sensors.

Crocodile skin is very tough and durable. It can withstand being bit and hit by large predators as they are dragged underwater and wrestled.

Despite the rumors, crocodile skin is not bulletproof. They can get shot, and it does hurt. However, their skin does offer an outer layer of protection like armor.

Crocodile skin is also ten times more sensitive than human fingertips.

Common Types of Crocodiles

There are 24 crocodile species recognized in the world. They vary in size, appearance, and behavior.

Keep reading to learn about the most common types of crocodiles.

Saltwater Crocodiles

Saltwater crocodiles are one of the most well-known species.

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They are massive, and can easily weigh past 2,000 pounds. While they can get up to 23 feet long, their average size is 17 feet long. In the wild, saltwater crocodiles live about 70 years.

They have powerful jaws and are strong hunters, ambushing their prey in the water. Most saltwater crocodiles consume large fish, snakes, wild boars, buffalo, and crustaceans. 

Freshwater Crocodiles

Freshwater crocodiles live in freshwater environments. They are common in rivers, lagoons, lakes, and creeks. While they travel far, most freshwater crocodiles return to the same body of water. 

Freshwater crocodiles take shelter in burrows under tree roots, which are typically submerged in water. They are found throughout Australia and are active all year round.

Interestingly, to get out of the water, they ‘high walk’, which is a stance where their belly and most of their tail don’t touch the ground.

Nile Crocodiles

Nile crocodiles are what most people think of when they hear the word crocodile. These large long-nosed crocodiles are found throughout Africa, including at least 26 countries. Their average size is 16 feet long and they weigh about 500 pounds.

Nile crocodiles are very vocal and splash the water when they are interested in a female. They also play and blow water through its nostril, creating a fountain-like spray.

Spectacled Caimans

Spectacled caimans are native to parts of south and central America, including Mexico and Argentina. They are generally solitary animals but live together in loose groups. They are also commonly known as white caimans.

Spectacled caimans are smaller than most crocodile species. They grow up to 6.5 feet, but females typically stop growing at 4.5 feet.

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In captivity, they live about 20 years, but in the wild, they can live up to 70 years, but it’s more common for small caiman to live between 20 to 50 years.

American Crocodiles

American crocodiles are one of the largest living reptile species in the world. They live in the southeastern United States.

They coexist with American alligators in the Everglades. Interestingly, they are more docile than American alligators.

American crocodiles and alligators are often confused with one another. But American crocodiles have narrower, triangular-shaped snouts and short legs.

Although they can grow up to 20 feet long, they typically stop growing at 14 feet long in the wild. Female American crocodiles are smaller than males.

Cuban Crocodiles

Cuban crocodiles are critically endangered. They are native to Cuba’s Zapata Swamp in the southwest and Lanier Swamp on Isla de Juventud. Previously they lived in the Cayman and Bahaman islands. 

Cuban crocodiles eat fish and small mammals. Juveniles only eat smaller fish. These crocodiles live between 50 to 75 years. Adult Cuban crocodiles also eat young crocodiles. 

Final Thoughts 

Crocodiles feel pain, just like any other animal. They are sensitive to the feeling because of their heavily armored skin. However, crocodiles rarely react to pain and instead use their sensitive skin as a hunting tool.

Nixza Gonzalez

Nixza is a highly experienced content writer with over five years of expertise in crafting expert blogs and digital content on the subject of animals. In addition to her writing skills, Nixza possesses a deep understanding of animal behavior and husbandry, honed through hands-on experience caring for her own pets and through her passion for gardening. When not working, Nixza can often be found spending quality time with her beloved animals, furthering her knowledge and deepening her connection to the natural world.

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