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Puerto Vallarta

‘Low Season’ Brings Out Puerto Vallarta’s Resident Crocodiles

Photo: Larry Bennett, Aspen Photo Art

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico – Puerto Vallarta’s tranquil summer season seems to coincide with increased sightings of crocodiles, the Banderas Bay area’s resident large reptiles. Experts attribute this to the fact that wildlife tends to be more visible when there are fewer people around.

However, crocodiles are not inherently shy and can be seen year-round. Their natural habitat, a network of rivers that flow into the ocean, grants them access to most tributaries and swimming areas. Fortunately, while encounters are relatively common, crocodile attacks in Puerto Vallarta remain exceedingly rare. Nevertheless, staying informed and cautious is crucial.

The American crocodile, a species with an extensive range encompassing Mexico’s Pacific coast, Central America, and northern South America, is the dominant predator in the Puerto Vallarta region. These formidable reptiles can grow up to twenty feet in length and inhabit areas up to twenty miles inland, including areas frequented by tourists in the states of Nayarit and Jalisco.

Given their impressive size, it’s advisable to maintain a safe distance from any crocodile encountered. Though they lack natural predators besides humans, maintaining a barrier is essential. Interestingly, historical reports of crocodile aggression typically involve trespassers, poachers targeting turtle eggs, or individuals engaged in other illegal activities.

Crocodiles are primarily nocturnal hunters, preferring limited moonlight. Disruptions to their natural behavior, often caused by human activity, can be problematic. For instance, off-leash dogs that approach crocodiles barking and snarling are seen as threats, and can be snatched up as prey. Since canines appear to be a delicacy for crocodiles, keeping dogs leashed is paramount.

The American crocodile is unique among its kin due to its ability to thrive in both saltwater and freshwater environments. This unusual adaptation is attributed to specialized salt glands located under their tongue, a fascinating evolutionary trait.

For those interested in observing crocodiles in their natural habitat and learning more about their behavior, Puerto Vallarta offers sanctuaries like the El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary near the Flamingos Golf Club and the Estero el Salado Sanctuary in the Puerto Vallarta hotel zone. Visitors are advised to bring cameras, sturdy shoes, and ample insect repellent for these excursions.

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