Lake Chapala crocodile is an invasive species, says biologist


Ocotlán, Jalisco

After making known images in photography and video by the inhabitants of Ajijic, municipality of Chapala that confirmed the presence of a crocodile specimen within the Laguna de Chapala, the Harbor Master’s Office installed in the municipality issued a notice so that the residents take precautions, this to prevent citizens from approaching the reptile or reptiles that roam the lake, preventing risks both for the citizens themselves and for the animals.

Alertan por avistamientos de cocodrilos en Lago de Chapala

The Biologist and independent researcher, director of Tropical Forest, Research for the Conservation of Nature AC, Paulino Ponce Campos, indicated that the lake’s habitat is conducive for crocodile specimens to thrive and indicated that these have been introduced to the bodies of water by human hand and issued a recommendation to the public, including preventing the crocodiles from being fed in any way, because this action would imply changes in their behavior, according to studies carried out at the national level by Ponce Campos himself. .

“Do not feed them, because that is a factor that is causing changes in their behavior and is influencing, according to my data, many people bitten and even killed nationwide, well they are very fearful and fearful if there is someone they move away if sometimes they stay because they are used to it, but they leave. The size is important, if they are animals of more than two meters you have to be very careful, never bring children or pets close to them because they are the ones who are most at risk. 

The researcher, with 30 years of experience, indicated that there is a history of reports from other municipalities in the Cienega region of specimens of different sizes from one to three meters, corresponding to the so-called Crocodylus acutus and the moreletti of those that inhabit the west and Gulf of Mexico.

He also noted that the reported specimens may belong to people who were their owners who had them as pets, either bought illegally or captured but when they grow up they decide to erroneously release them to bodies of water or even the same specimens that can escape from their owners. .

“Let’s say in Chapala there can be anything that has trade, let’s say there are already many species that are managed in trade that in the state or the country, potentially there could be if someone released them, it does not mean that all are, at least the The crocodile we have here on the coast is the Crocodylus acutus or moreletti, which is from the Gulf of Mexicans, we know they may be there because there was already a record of one in Tizapan ”.

Ponce Campos pointed out that the temperature conditions of Lake Chapala, despite being low, can host this reptile thanks to its thermoregulation adaptability, the lagoon is also thermostable due to its water capacity. 

The biologist mentioned that the habitat of the lagoon lacks spaces in its margins so that crocodiles can take refuge out of the water, although there are areas with lily pads or with tular that can act as a superficial hiding place, these require spaces with sand to expose themselves to the sun quietly.

Ponce Campos explained that they feed on birds, other reptiles, medium-sized animals, different types of fish, insects, amphibians and snakes that do not exceed their size. The presence of the reptiles does not imply an alteration to the food chain of the lagoon since few specimens have been reported.

The biologist noted that there are possibilities for crocodiles to reproduce, this depending on several factors, among which are the number of specimens in the lake, that they are in the adult phase of their life, in addition to the season of mating, reproduction, nesting and incubation, taking as a reference the habits of specimens, the western part of the country covers the months from February to June, this is where the season during which the temperature is hot.

Paulino Ponce Campos stressed that crocodiles are not hostile in the first instance, but stressed that most of the conflicts between humans in Mexico and Latin America that involve Acutus and Moreletti crocodiles have to do with size and that these from three meters to above represent a risk


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