A Byte of History
What kind of animal had big mouths*? Scroll down for answer.
“Aye-pod, say AAAH,” said Plover bird, ready to pick away at my teeth. Like all hatchlings, I lived in a pod. I often said, “Aye,” being an agreeable chap. That’s how I got my name, Aye-pod, a name that stuck. We had to live together in a pod because there was danger from our own adult males. As I basked in the warm summer sun, I realized I had been on my own for two years now. Since me and my friends were two years of age, we had been hunting and defending ourselves. Longingly, I thought about the rides in mama’s mouth. She even let us have piggy-back rides. It was so cool!
Shifting a little, I felt better when Plover bird got off my gums and went to my back for finding her fill of those irritating bugs. I’d make a juicy meal of her but I needed her help to stay clean and itch-free. Besides, I was full from my meal.
I watched a monitor lizard sneak past, dig into a neighbors’ nest. The pesky thief took away half the eggs! I have even seen some humans taking eggs. Do they think we are chicken! They should know better.
Our average age is the same as theirs and at times, I can outrun them in a race. Intelligence-wise, they will find out we are smarter than they give us credit for. Also, my mother told me that we are one of the rare survivors from the dinosaur days. I sometimes wish for the Egyptian days of croc-worship. I heard it was nice to be fed meat, cakes, milk, and honey. Our ancestors sure, had a jolly good time!
I heard from my neighbor’s nest, babies calling their mother for help. They needed help to get out of the eggs. They grunted, yelped, knocked on the shell with their egg-tooth; anything to get their mama’s attention. Their mother came. She noticed the Red-Bellies were hatching too. “Lazy bums!” she said, “They can’t even make their own nest and are always in the way.” She protected them, regardless.
She picked up one egg, gently rolled it back and forth against the roof of her mouth. In twenty minutes, her baby broke free from the egg. “Bang on the fiftieth day!” she said with pride. She looked at the other eggs for they may take another three to four weeks. She was delighted to see some of hers, working away with their egg-tooth steadily on their own, resting in between.
I remembered how close my mother had been when I needed help as a one year old during an attack from predators. In face of danger, I used my most famous crocodile scream, “Mommie, help me!” It sounded more like grunt, roar, hrrumph! Those were the juvenile days. At age four, we started watching over other young ones to help.
Their mother carried the hatchlings in her mouth, the hatchlings scampering in haste not to miss the mama bus-ride. It tickled me to see them fall out, traveling unsteadily!
We crocodiles used our mouths for many other cool functions like cooling mouth, mating call, and catching prey in a dead-lock no-escape grip. Our mouth is slow to open but has a fast powerful snap-shut mechanism.
Hunting, Temperature, and Dental Care
We have to work hard at our food: locate, grab, swing to tear, and gulp. Come hunting someday with me, but don’t get too close. My teeth are sharp, replaceable with multiple sets of extra teeth. You should have seen me catch an elephant by it’s trunk. It was fun until he gave me a nasty kick!
My favorite hunt so far has been a grown zebra. It was hard work to grab it and pull it down into the water to drown it. But the first gulp down made all the hard work worth it. Delicious meal! Many of my friends enjoyed that awesome party.
Going under water like a submarine, I’m in a ‘flap’ mode. It’s actually really N.E.E.T.! I can shut flaps on my Nostrils, Eyes, Ears, and Throat to dive or stay underwater even up to an hour! Bet you can’t do that. My tail helps me propel forward, my feet helping for slowing and turning functions. Did you know I can even see through my eye flaps under water?
Being cold-blooded makes me sun-activated. Solar panels would really help in night time functions. Then I could be a Super Croc! Meanwhile, the cold just makes me sluggish, takes away my appetite, and digestive powers. My crested scutes actually absorb heat, but more like your air-conditioning to stabilize temperature.
A scorching hot week went by. I needed water to cool off, so I glided into our pond. From the corner of my eye, I saw sudden movement. I saw a herd of water buffalos moving towards the water for a drink. Being an ambush predator, I preferred to lay submerged and sit still … till the right moment.
NOW! I lunged at the shocked buffoon and went into a death roll, my most deadly attack style. I grabbed onto the animal and started rolling on full power. Suddenly the animal went limp in my grip, offering no resistance at all. I hungrily ripped off it’s leg and swallowed it whole. I left the rest for my friends to share.
I was now tired, Kapoot!^ I found some rocks, swallowed them whole, and lay down to bask with my mouth open, eyes closing in gentle happiness.
Where is Plover today? “Ploverrr!” I call out. I am so badly in need of a dental clean up after my meal. Sometimes I wonder, is she really selfless in helping me or just plain greedy and hungry. At least, her services are free.
To be continued…
P.S. If your child likes the story so far, please click like, comment, or contact me and I will post the rest of the story. Thank you for reading to your child!
The big guy is a Crocodile, the giant friend with a big-old smile.
Kapoot^ : worn out, drained of strength.
1. Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (website), India.
2.The encyclopedia of reptiles and amphibians. Editors: Dr. Tim Halliday and Dr. Kraig Adler. Facts on File Inc. Equinox (Oxford) Ltd. 1986.