Greetings, crocodilian fanciers! This post is a day late because I was traveling yesterday, but it still counts.
The New Guinea Crocodile (Crocodylus novaguineae) is a small crocodilian that can be found in the freshwater lakes and swamps of the island of New Guinea. Like other species of crocodilian, it once faced the threat of extinction in the 1950s due to over-hunting, but conservation measures taken since then have restored its population to the point where it is currently considered to be a species of least concern by the IUCN.
Adult male New Guinea Crocodiles can grow up to 11 feet (3.5 meters) in total body length, while adult females are slightly smaller at 8.9 feet (2.7 meters). They range in color from a grey-brown to a dark-brown, with dark bands that are vivid when they are hatchlings and juveniles, but fade slightly as they age. Though they prefer freshwater habitats, they have been observed living in the brackish waters of estuaries. It is never found in areas in which its territory might overlap with that of the saltwater crocodile, however.
New Guinea Crocodiles spend most of their time in the water, and are most active at night. During they day, they tend to bask in the sun, usually in groups. Their diet depends on the available prey and the size of the crocodile. Hatchlings and juveniles feed on snails, small frogs, insects, spiders, fish, and small mammals when they're big enough. Adults feed on fish, crustaceans, birds, medium-sized mammals, and other reptiles. It has been observed lunging straight into the air to grab birds and bats.
The breeding season of New Guinea Crocodiles takes place between August and October. Gravid females will construct floating nests of vegetation and mud, which are kept close to shore in calm, shallow water. The females will lay a clutch of 22 to 45 eggs in the nest, staying with it for the 80-day incubation period. New Guinea Crocodiles are vocal crocodilians and are thought to be able to communicate with their nest-mates while still in the egg - this is believed to aid them in coordinating their hatching. Juveniles will emit a distress cry when in danger and dive to the bottom of the water - this cry will bring every adult within hearing distance to the rescue.
Though there are now between 50,000 and 100,000 New Guinea Crocodiles in wild, only hard work by conservationists, protective laws and captive breeding have allowed their numbers to grow to this amount. The IUCN's most recent assessment of the New Guinea Crocodile occurred in 1996, during which it was determined that it had a large range of available habitat and a healthy population.