WATCH: Crocodiles sink teeth into first post-hibernation meal

2016-09-07 09:03
Crocodile. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Crocodile. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - Have you ever wondered what happens when crocodiles eat for the first time after three months of hibernation?

On Tuesday the Johannesburg Zoo gave spectators a chance to witness 15 of their crocodiles enjoy their first post-hibernation meal.

Much to the surprise of those in attendance a single full sheep carcass was enough to satisfy these toothy costumers. But according to Johannesburg Zoo curator for reptiles, amphibian and fish, Ian du Plessis, it is normal for the crocodiles to take things easy with the first meal.

Another contributing factor is that the rope-bound carcass that is thrown into the water for them to eat triggers memories of the meal they were fed when they were captured.

Zookeeper Timothy Netsianda, who has taught the reptiles to recognise a whistle signalling that their food is ready, said crocodiles are smart creatures and can still remember the technique used to catch them.

"During the winter they become inactive, even though you put food in the cage, they're not going to eat it. Because the temperature is rising above 25° they start to get hungry now," Netsianda said.

He added that the animals only respond to feeding time when it is hot.

Guinea pigs a favourite

"When it's a cold day, they don't eat. We don't feed them on rainy days because they won't eat then."

The zoo tries to stimulate the natural instinct of the crocodiles even though they are kept in cages as to keep them from becoming tame.

"We have safety procedures in place and people shouldn't tease the animals because they are still wild."

While on Tuesday there weren't any fights over whose turn it was to take a bite, things change when they are fed guinea pigs, which they prefer over any other food.

Usually the animals are fed up to 40kg every Wednesday and then again 40kg on Sundays for a total portion of 80kg per week.

During hibernation periods, they are kept in a greenhouse at a temperature of 26°.

"The purpose for this is to regulate their body temperatures in order for them to stay alive from the bitterly cold nights outside of their enclosure," Du Plessis said.

WATCH the video here:

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