Where do crocodiles live? What do they eat, how long do they live for, how are they different to alligators

People thought they had seen the animals off the Yorkshire coast

People in the north of England were shocked when they thought they saw “crocodiles” just off the Yorkshire coast. The video of the supposed reptiles, which was taken in north Yorkshire seaside town Filey, has been causing a stir since it was first posted on social media site Facebook earlier this month.

According to experts, however, it is “extremely unlikely” that it was the large semi aquatic reptiles that the holidaymakers saw.

Angela Julian, Co-ordinator at Amphibian and Reptile Groups UK, said: “It is extremely unlikely that she has spotted actual living crocodiles in the North Sea - lovely as the idea sounds. Generally they are a tropical riverine or lake taxa and we definitely don’t have any native. They could be other marine creatures including walrus or turtles, or floating debris.”

She added that there is also a possibility that they were plastic crocodiles.

So, just where do crocodiles actually live, how long do they live and what do they eat?

Things to know about crocodiles, including where they live and what they eat.

What does the video footage show?

Video footage shared by NationalWorld sister title The Scarborough News captured what appears to be ‘crocodiles’ just off the coastline at Blue Dolphin Caravan Park, between Cayton Bay and Filey.

Sarah Craven filmed the footage whilst out on a walk with her family.

She said: “We took the boys up for a walk on the cliff top when we saw some dolphins jumping in the background.

“Suddenly, my son shouted ‘crocodiles!’. We all looked down and there in front of me were what I thought were two large crocodiles.

“We moved further along the cliff to get a closer look and I started to take pictures and videos. If a closer look is taken you can see the back legs swimming.

“I saw both front legs and back legs with long pointy tails swishing behind, the skin looked bumpy like crocodile or alligator skin. We then noticed a smaller one in between the large ones.”

Where do crocodiles live in the wild?

A total of 18 different extant species of crocodile have been identified, including the American crocodile, the freshwater crocodile, the dwarf crocodile, the Nile crocodile and the saltwater crocodile.

They can all be found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Australia and America. They normally live near lakes, rivers, wetlands and even some saltwater regions.

Crocodiles live in tropical climates because they are cold-blooded which means they are unable to generate their own heat.

During colder months, they enter a hibernation-like state of inactivity known as aestivation, which involves slowing down all bodily processes.

Crocodiles also aestivate during long periods of drought. To create a place to hibernate, they dig out a burrow in the side of a riverbank or lake and then settle in to it for a long sleep.

Map showing where crocodiles live - and where holidaymakers think they saw them in Yorkshire.

What do crocodiles eat?

Crocodiles are carnivores, and because they can live in both freshwater and saltwater their diet is unique - although what exactly they eat depends on what region they live in.

In the wild, crocodiles eat insects, fish, small frogs, lizards, crustaceans and small mammals.

The larger the crocodile, the larger the prey. The  saltwater crocodiles have even been known to eat large wildebeest.

Crocodiles are also opportunistic predators, but they enjoy eating fish, birds, turtles, frogs, snakes, wild boar, wildebeest, sharks, crustaceans such as crabs, deer or other small hoofed mammals and baby elephants or rhinos.

Crocodiles have also been known to kill humans, and again the larger the crocodile - and the smaller the human - the bigger the threat.

How long do crocodiles live?

All crocodile species have an average lifespan of at least 30 to 40 years, and in the case of larger species they can even live for an average of 60 to 70 years. The oldest crocodiles appear to be the largest species.

How are crocodiles different to alligators?

The American alligator, sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large reptile native to the Southeastern United States. They can be found in freshwater, slow-moving rivers, marshes and swamps from North Carolina to Texas in USA. These creatures can grow up to 4.5m metres long and can live to the age of 50.

Crocodiles and alligators are similar in their appearance, but they actually belong to separate biological families.

There are also actually numerous physical characteristics that are different between them. For example, a crocodile’s jaw  is V-shaped while an alligator’s jaw is U-shaped. In addition, crocodiles’ teeth stick up over their upper lip when their mouths are closed, whereas alligators’ teeth do not.

Another difference between alligators and crocodiles is that crocodiles have salt glands on their tongues which help them to live their life in salt water. Alligators, however, prefer to live in freshwater areas because they do not have the ability to secrete excess salt through the tongue glands.

Crocodiles are also larger and fully-grown creatures will be up to a metre longer than even large alligators. In addition, crocodiles are lighter in colour than alligators.