African dwarf crocodiles poles apart

Crocodile keepers at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre have discovered a gap in their training that's playing havoc with their nerves!All the safe-handling and health and safety tips failed to prepare them for the fact that crocodiles, it seems, can have very individual personalities.

Crocodile keepers at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre have discovered a gap in their training that's playing havoc with their nerves!

All the safe-handling and health and safety tips failed to prepare them for the fact that crocodiles, it seems, can have very individual personalities.

So it has proved with Ntombi and Anyang, a pair of African dwarf crocodiles which, despite being sisters of identical age, are as different as chalk and cheese.

And, while one of them seems more afraid of the humans than they are of her, the other often finds a cunning hiding place from which to make a sudden appearance!

Displays supervisor Christine Pitcher said: “Anyang is lively and quite timid, and when we have to enter the enclosure she retreats to a far corner.

“Ntombi, on the other hand, usually goes into hiding before we arrive, so that we're constantly expecting to be ambushed.”

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If not in hiding, Ntombi will generally be in her favourite spot beside the base of a tree and will stubbornly dig in her claws and resist all efforts to dislodge her.

Christine and her colleagues have to enter the crocodile enclosure every day to clean up, and, although Ntombi has never actually attacked or tried to bite anyone, they can't quite put her gaping jaws and rows of jagged teeth out of their minds.

“I guess because crocodiles are such primitive reptiles we expected them to have very similar and predictable behaviour patterns,” said Christine. “It's been a bit of a revelation discovering how different they are and, in Ntombi's case, how stubborn and sometimes how sly and cunning they can be.”

Though they don't really expect Ntombi to become aggressive, it's best to take no chances with crocodiles. So the rule is that cleaning out the crocodile enclosure is a two-person job: one cleans while the other watches for Ntombi, armed with a broom.

Ntombi and Anyang have quickly become members of the seafront centre's growing family.

“We may be nervous about the

daily cleaning job,” said Christine.

“But I think we all love Ntombi and Anyang just as much as we do our penguins or any other creature at the centre.”