IUCN status
Scientific name
Osteolaemus tetraspis
Sub-saharan West African and West Central Africa
Tropical lowlands.

African dwarf crocodile facts

  • African dwarf crocodiles one of the world's smallest crocodiles. The females guard their nests and their young after they've hatched, to protect them from predators.
  • The African Dwarf Crocodile is the most armoured of all crocodiles to protect itself from predators
  • They grow to around 1.5m in length, opposed to larger species of crocodile with grow up to 5m in length.
  • African dwarf crocodiles are mainly nocturnal.
African dwarf crocodile closeup at Whipsnade Zoo

What do African dwarf crocodiles look like?

African dwarf crocodiles are black on both their back and sides, while their stomach is yellow with dark patches. Their neck, back and tails are heavily armoured in order to protect them from predators. 

What do African dwarf crocodiles eat? 

Fish and crustaceans.

African dwarf crocodile threats

Central African dwarf crocodiles are heavily impacted by hunting for meat and trade by local people and, in terms of weight, are one of the most abundant sources of bushmeat found across the region. However, it is likely populations in West Africa are now below economically viable levels for such exploitation.

African dwarf crocodile conservation

African dwarf crocodiles are one of our EDGE species,  which means they are both evolutionary distinct (GD) and globally endangered (GE). We're championing underdog species like the African dwarf crocodile by investing in conservation at a grass-roots level. 

Our animals

  • Panther chameleon on a branch with bright colours
    Furcifer pardalis

    Panther chameleon

    People think that chameleons change colour for camouflage, but the main role of their incredible colour-changing ability is associated with communication, or as a response to changes in their environment.

  • Ruby the red panda in a tree at Whipsnade Zoo
    Ailurus fulgens

    Red panda

    A red panda's diet mainly consists of bamboo, and they have thick fur to protect them from their rainy, mountainous habitat in the Himalayas

  • Wallaby at Whipsnade Zoo on frosty autumn morning
    Macropus rufogriseus


    A wallaby pregnancy is only one month long, followed by nine months in the poach. They are only around 1cm long at birth.

  • Two Marabou storks 'the undertaker bird' at Whipsnade Zoo
    Leptoptilos crumenifer

    Marabou stork

    Known as the 'undertaker bird', these storks gained their unfortunate nickname because of their huge, dark, cloak-like wingspan and diet of rotten carcasses.

  • White-faced Scops Owl with two tufts on it's head and bright orange eyes
    Ptilopsis leucotis

    White-faced scops owl

    These owl are able to transform to ward off predators, by either making themselves appear much larger or smaller.

  • Carol and Ernie the otters at Whipsnade Zoo
    Aonyx cinereus

    Asian short-clawed otter

    Discover otter facts before visiting our Asian short-clawed otters at Whipsnade Zoo

  • Our animals