Sunday, February 21, 2010

croc around the clock

Harnas' two crocodiles, (Ina and Claus--whose names I'd didn't know for a long time so I called them Newman and Kramer) have been here over ten years. They'd never produced eggs, so people were wondering if they were, perhaps, the same sex. (It's difficult to ask a full-grown crocodile to "roll over" --and it wouldn't help anyway.)

But this past October, they began to dig holes, and sure enough, around 40-50 eggs appeared. It's been suspenseful waiting, and when the time came and left (mid-January) for the eggs to hatch and the mother to dig them out, we all got worried.

On Marieta's and my trip to Otjivarongo (note this new and correct spelling of the town), we asked the owner of the croc farm lots of questions, and he told us to dig them up and see if there were any living babies. (Although he also said hatching can take up to 6 months in the wild--and the changes with global warming has affected a lot of the animals in various ways.)

First of all, you need to know that a very small percentage of baby crocs are hatched, healthy, and strong enough to survive the first few days. Out of the eggs, we got six or seven living crocs, 4 of whom survived the shock of entering life (also normal. The owner of the croc far, said they are easily affected by stress and often die from it when they're babies.)

To protect them, then, from people peering at them and picking them up, Marieta has put them in one of her bathtubs with a heater in the room to keep them warm. They all seem to be doing well, and by my count, it will be easier to take care of 4 rather than 40.

Today Marieta and I will start feeding them--chicken, with tweezers to protect our fingers. They already have teeth (and they squeak!).

Despite growing up to be true monsters in size and aggression, they're actually cute at this age. Well, maybe not puppy cute, but cute in a baby dinosaur way.

video

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