Image for Underground crocs

Underground crocs

Duration: 03:30

Months ago, a five metre, half ton, Nile crocodile scraped out a burrow to escape the heat of the African sun. Now he's in a state of suspended animation, with his heart beating just twice a minute, delivering just enough blood to prevent his vital organs shutting down completely. To survive, he draws on the fat reserves accumulated from last year's hunt. In this condition, the crocodile can wait out the worst of the African drought. When the rains finally return, the predator flickers to life. But before this cold blooded reptile can hunt, he needs to warm up, so he leaves his burrow to sit in the sun. The ridges of scales along his back are more than just body armour. They act like solar panels, absorbing the heat from the sun. Just under the surface of this scaly skin is a web of capillaries that carry the warmed blood to the crocodile's core, activating his systems. His eyesight sharpens and his hearing tunes in to the world around him. For the next six months he must make do with fish to snack on, until the larger prey arrives in the migration.

Available since: Tue 23 Mar 2010

This clip is from

Inside the Perfect Predator

Documentary revealing the inner alchemy that gives four of nature's hunters the edge.

First broadcast: 25 Mar 2010

Image for Inside the Perfect Predator Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss