Crocodiles take a few years to reach sexual maturity: females are typically between 11 to 14 years old and males are 16 years of age by the time they're ready to mate. Although there are some differences in the mating rituals between crocodile species, the process of fertilization is the same.
The male attracts female attention by splashing the water with his snout and spraying water from it. He also may bellow and release a musky scent. Although the male leads the courtship dance, the female responds with her own sounds and smells. The paired crocs rub snouts and play in the water for up to two hours before actually mating.
Mating always takes place in the water. The male lies over the female's back and wraps his hind legs and tail under her. This position enables them to align their cloacal vents, which are used for both reproduction and waste excretion. The male inserts his penis into the cloaca and ejaculates his sperm straight into the female's two oviducts. After mating, the female's yolk-filled eggs travel from the ovaries to the oviduct, which is now filled with sperm, for fertilization. The pair may mate several times, but crocodiles are not exclusive and the clutch of eggs that the females gives birth to may be the offspring of several males.
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Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.