Morelet's crocodile
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene - Present
Crocodile de Morelet.jpeg.jpeg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Genus: Crocodylus
Species: C. moreletii
Binomial name
Crocodylus moreletii
A.H.A. Duméril & Bibron, 1851
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Range of Crocodylus moreletii

Morelet's crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii), also known as the Mexican crocodile, is a modest sized crocodilian found only in fresh waters of the Atlantic regions of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. It usually grows to about 3 metres (9.8 ft) in length. It is a Least Concern species.

Taxonomy and etymology

Morelet's crocodile was discovered in Mexico in 1850 and named after the French naturalist who made the discovery, Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet (1809–1892). It was long confused with the American and Cuban crocodiles because of similar characteristics and an ambiguous type locality. It was not generally accepted as a separate species until the 1920s.


Morelet's crocodile has a very broad snout with 66 to 68 teeth when they are fully mature. They are dark grayish-brown in color with dark bands and spots on the body and the tail. This is similar to other crocodiles, like the American crocodile, but the Morelet is somewhat darker. Juvenile crocodiles are bright yellow with some dark bands. The crocodile’s iris is silvery brown. They have four short legs, giving them a rather sprawling gait, and a long tail, which is used for swimming. The hind feet of the crocodiles are webbed. They have very explosive capabilities because of their strong muscles and are fast runners.


Morelet’s crocodile is small compared to most other crocodiles. The males can become larger than the females. The average adult Morelet's crocodile is about 2.1 m (6.9 ft), with a typical length range of 1.5 to 2.7 m (4.9 to 8.9 ft) (the lower measurement representing the mean total length of a female at sexual maturity which is attained at roughly 7–8 years of age in the wild). Almost all crocodiles in excess of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) are males and at this advanced stage of maturity, the male goes through a significant change in skull osteological morphology as the skull appears to increase in broadness and robustness. Large adult males can attain a length of 3 m (9.8 ft), anything in excess of this is considered exceptionally rare for this species however the species has a maximum reported length of 4.5 m (15 ft), with two other outsized specimens reportedly measuring 4.1 and 4.3 m (13 and 14 ft), respectively. Body mass in this species is often around 38–58 kg (84–128 lb), however this may include possibly overweight captive specimen and average adult body mass in wild adults from Belize was posited as approximately 27.7 kg (61 lb). The weight of a large 3 m (9.8 ft) wild male crocodile is estimated to average 83.9 kg (185 lb) in although mass is likely much more in outsized individuals. Overall, this species is similar in appearance and morphology to the Cuban and the larger American crocodiles in appearance.

In the Media

  • National Geographic: Croc Chronicles.
  • Animal Planet’s Wild Recon “Bounty Hunter”.
  • St. Augustine Alligator Farm Documentary 2010.
  • PBS Nature: Jungle Animal Hospital.
  • PBS National Geographic Special Photo Ark. “Seen on some photographs”
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