Surprising But True: Crocodiles Can't Chew

Stacy Conradt

Image credit: MartinRe

Yes, it's true. Despite their fearsome reputation, crocodiles can't chew. But that's not to say they won't kill you—in fact, death by crocodile is probably more agonizing precisely because they're unable to masticate.

You see, crocodiles' jaws aren't wired to move sideways, so they can't grind food down in a traditional chewing motion. What they can do, however, is rip off large chunks of their prey and swallow those chunks whole. If you've ever noticed the distinct manner in which crocs eat, now you know why - they're ripping off pieces of meat. You can see a pretty good example of how that happens in this video. It's rather graphic, so if you're squeamish, please bypass it. 

Crocodiles do have a pretty mean bite. Their jaws may not move sideways, but you better believe they move up and down, snapping shut with thousands of pounds of force. The muscles required to open the jaw are much weaker, though—all it takes is a strong rubber band to keep a croc from biting.

If you didn't read this whole post in a Steve Irwin voice, please go back and do so now.