Creepy Critters - Dwarf Crocodiles

Compact Carnivores

Fearsome predators, crocodiles can occupy the imagination of anyone who dips a toe in the water…even if that water is Lake Michigan. The zoo’s juvenile dwarf crocodiles mirror the power and beauty of their larger cousins—but on a smaller scale, one that substitutes crickets for wildebeest as prey.

The five dwarf crocodiles that share an exhibit at Regenstein Small Mammal–Reptile House are juvenile siblings. They all hatched in September 2007, providing a welcome boost for their endangered population.

At 16 inches long and 2 pounds each, they have a lot of growing to do before they reach adult size, which can extend to 5.5 feet and 70 pounds.  But they’re steadily getting bigger on a diet of fish, crickets and tiny mice.

The small reptiles are most active at mealtime, reports Curator Diane Mulkerin. But guests can also enjoy the challenge of spotting them all in their exhibit, where natural camouflage and a tendency to float motionlessly to lure prey help them hide. “They’re very visible, but you do have to look,” says Mulkerin. “There are usually one or two in the pool, with some up on the rocks. But they do like hiding under things!”


by James Seidler

Celebrate the Season

We’re running a series of Creepy Critter profiles in October to highligh some of the species that—fairly or not—tend to give some guests the shivers. Here are some other ways to celebrate the season at Lincoln Park Zoo!

  Spooky Zoo Spectacular

Hosted by the Auxiliary Board, Spooky Zoo Spectacular is an opportunity for children to celebrate Halloween in a free, safe and family-friendly environment.
Learn more about Spooky Zoo Spectacular

  Wish List: Fun this Fall—Zoo Style

Leaves are starting to change colors and temperatures are cooling at Lincoln Park Zoo. Help the zoo’s animals welcome autumn—consider purchasing squash for monkeys, “western wear” for the ponies and cows, and pumpkin balls for the zebras.
See What's on the Wish List