West African Dwarf crocodile in exhibit

West African Dwarf Crocodile

Scientific Name

Osteolaemus tetraspis

Class

Reptilia

Order

Crocodylia

Range

West Africa and west Central Africa

Habitat

Tropical forests

Estimated Wild Population

n/a
West African dwarf crocodile in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable

More Information

Physical Description

West African dwarf crocodiles are uniformly dark in color and have brown eyes. These slow moving, timid creatures have heavily armored bodies covered in bony, plated scales from head to tail. They can grow to a length of five and a half feet and weigh 70 pounds. Aquatic and nocturnal, they feed on crabs, frogs, fish, and, occasionally, small mammals that wander into the water. Dwarf crocodiles lay approximately 20 eggs at a time in nest mounds made of vegetation.

Interesting Fact 1

West African dwarf crocodiles can live for 100 years.

Interesting Fact 2

Their eyes have a transparent membrane and are placed high on their head, allowing them to see above the water while mostly submerged.

Interesting Fact 3

They are some of the smallest living crocodiles in the world.

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care. 

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

ADOPT an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.  

Browse the Wish List

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Learn More