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Are There Crocodiles In Jamaica | by Sheree-Anita Shearer, Associate Writer
There are a few questions I would have before going on vacation to another country. Yes, I need to know where the top attractions, historical sites and restaurants are. But some questions are, if you can imagine, a little more serious than that. Are there dangerous animals in Jamaica? Where are they located?
These are all valid questions, it doesn’t help anyone if we aren’t aware of the dangers on vacation that we are up against or sometimes, that we pose to the animals and the wildlife of that county. Many persons have very similar questions when visiting Jamaica. One of the most popular questions is “Are there crocodiles in Jamaica?” Well, let’s find out.
Crocodiles are found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas (the Caribbean, North and South America). They are known to live near wetlands, rivers, lakes and saltwater. They prefer living in brackish water; a mixture of salt and fresh water in morass areas.
In Jamaica, they are found mainly in the southern parishes from St. Thomas to Westmoreland. There are some sightings on crocodiles in the northern regions as well, Hanover, St. James and Trelawny but it is to a lesser extent.
The nesting period for crocodiles is March to August each year. Female crocodiles can lay between 30-60 eggs and incubate them for 80-90 days for them to hatch.
The sex of the crocodile is determined by the temperature inside the nest. The warmer temperatures will produce more female crocodiles and for colder temperatures the opposite is true.
Despite their aggressive and intimidating features crocodiles are actually very shy and will usually only attack when being harassed or it is low on food. In fact, there have only been 4 crocodile attacks in Jamaica since 1847. That is 175 years without an attack.
Well crocodiles are carnivores and will eat mainly animals in and around the wetlands or rivers. Fish, frogs, snakes and birds are always on the menu for adult crocs. In Jamaica, they are known to eat goats and chickens if they come too close to the crocodile’s nest. For the babies who can’t eat that large an animal yet, they eat small insects and fish.
Yes, there are! Jamaica is home to the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), the only species of crocodile we have here. Male American crocodiles can grow to be up to 25ft, however the average crocodile in the wild is usually around 15ft in length.
These crocodiles can swim up to 60 miles per hour and their lifespan is up to 100 years old. Crocodiles are cold-blooded and so they rely on the sun a lot to warm up and for blood regulation. When they get too hot, they have to lay on land with their mouths open because they don’t have sweat glands like us humans do.
They have 65 teeth, but no tongue, a fact I learnt on the Black River Safari Tour. You can watch that video here.
All across the world, crocodiles are endangered because of hunting and destruction of the wetlands for development. Crocodiles are protected in Jamaica and have been since 1971. The law states that no crocodile should be hunted captured, killed or harrassed in any way.
It is also illegal to have a crocodile in your possession as a pet or otherwise without special permission from National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). The penalty for any of these crimes is JMD 100,000 or 12 months in prison.
NEPA has a crocodile rescue and research department which is a partnership between Hope Zoo, Non Government Organizations and private citizens for the assessment of the crocodile population.
If you are in swamp or wetlands, the first thing you should do is remain calm, chances are it will leave and not be a threat to you unless it feels threatened.
If it is seen in a residential area, or far away from the habitat. Do not approach the animal. Call the relevant authorities which are:
So are there crocodiles in Jamaica? Yes, but the chances of you getting hurt by one is very slim.
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