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Monday, May 18, 2009

Alligators and Crocodiles! (Juvenile Non-Fiction)

Released February 2009

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Creatures that resembled them lived on Earth for over two hundred million years. Today, the group of reptiles called crocodilians can be found on five continents. Alligators and crocodiles come in various sizes from six to 23 feet (the Indopacific croc) although most fall in the 12-20 foot range.
A lot faster than their squat, low slung, bulky form would suggest on land, these awe inspiring reptiles are lethal adversaries when confronted in their natural habitat-water.

Although the shape of the head and snout provides an important clue in discerning whether you are looking at American alligator or crocodile, the eyes and body colors, patterns of bumps on their backs, arrangement of teeth and how far apart the nostrils are also help identify various species of the large reptiles.

As you page through this book you'll learn all sorts of interesting facts about these creatures' characteristics and habits. For example, young readers will learn that not only are these the largest living reptiles but also the noisiest.

You might not think they have any natural predators besides man, but actually, the alligator snapping turtle stalks alligator hatchlings along with birds, snakes and the occasional otter and raccoon. In South America, jaguars and anacondas have been known to attack medium sized caimans.

Over twenty of the most common species are featured in the book with lifelike illustrations provided by Meryl Henderson. This book might be a little too "scary" for younger children, but those seven and older would probably find it fascinating. Far more than just a picture book, there's enough solid material here to make this an excellent resource for anyone doing a report on alligators and crocodiles.

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