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Do Not Disturb

American crocodile sleeping

People often ask the question "do crocodiles sleep?" The answer, of course, is yes. This is certainly what this American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) appears to be doing. Sleep in crocodilians is a very shallow affair, however. Studies on caimans have shown that they sleep intermittantly throughout the day (and occasionally at night, but remember that crocs are nocturnal by nature), but that they are very light sleepers. They do not enter R.E.M. sleep, which in humans is a deep, dreamlike sleep where the eyes appear to move randomly and rapidly (hence Rapid Eye Movement). Instead, crocs are wired to wake up at the slightest disturbance. This is clearly an important survival trait, and probably explains why you never actually seem to catch them sleeping - they're aware of you before you get close enough to notice.

This picture was taken by Balazs Bazus at the Zoologico Nacional, near the Carretera Masaya-Managua, in Nicaragua using a Nikon F100 with a 35-70/2.8 D Nikkor and SB-26 flash (Fuji Velvia 50 slide film). Not only is it a striking portrait of the head of an American Crocodile (where the characteristic "Roman nose" of this species is easily visible), but Balazs was able to catch the crocodile doing a behaviour that we rarely see - sleeping. Even if it's only a light sleep.



Would you like to enter your best photograph as a potential Pic of the Month? Send it to me and I'll include the best here each month. Each year I run a competition where the best photograph each year is awarded an Ilfochrome print. This year there will be a special prize to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of this website. The only criteria for submitting a photograph is this: it must capture the attention.


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