The reproductive cycle of the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus nilotkus)


  • 1

    Department of Zoology and Physiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803–1725, USA


The reproductive cycle of the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) was studied in Zimbabwe. Females attained sexual maturity after they had reached a total length of about 262 to 287 cm and males, 270 to 295 cm. Some adult females did not reproduce every year. Follicle growth and vitellogenesis occurred from April to mid August during the dry winter. During this time reproductive females had elevated levels of plasma oestradiol-17β, testosterone, calcium and magnesium, but lowered levels of iron. The measuring of plasma calcium was an ‘early pregnancy’ test, reliable up to four months before nesting. Elevated levels of plasma testosterone in reproductive females corresponded to the time of courtship and mating. Ovulation occurred during the latter half of August. Males had viable sperm from mid May to mid September, during the winter. Courtship and mating occurred from late June to mid August, when crocodiles were confined to pools. Females nested on the higher sand ridges in the dry river bed from early September to early October, and eggs hatched during December.