Different kinds of teeth are good for different kinds of food. So what kind of teeth do crocodiles have? You can be a crocodilian sleuth and learn about it right in your own kitchen!
Warning: This activity involves pointy objects! Please enjoy, and make sure you have adult supervision. It may also get a little messy (but that’s part of the fun, right?).
Materials Needed: You can learn about crocodile teeth with these common household items.
Swedish Fish or other gummy snacks
Hard-boiled egg in the shell (you’ll even be able to eat it later!)
Activity Time: About 15 minutes
Not all crocodiles eat the same prey. Although their teeth all look sharp and pointy, some crocodilians have other kinds of teeth, too. Let’s learn about three fun types of crocodile teeth with things you may even already have in your kitchen!
The three types will be represented by these ‘tooth tools’:
Fork (represents long and pointy teeth). To use this like a crocodilian, you’ll stab the pointy parts directly down into the prey item.
Butter knife (represents sharp, cutting teeth). To use this like a crocodilian, you’ll stab the sharper end directly into the prey item.
Back of a spoon (represents blunt, crushing teeth). To use this like a crocodilian, you’ll hit the prey item with the back of the spoon with a quick, hard tap.
Catch three types of prey with each of these tooth tools and decide what type of tooth is best for each kind of prey.
A lot of crocodilians eat fish, but they’re slippery things that can be hard to snag. To simulate a slippery fish, take your Swedish Fish or other gummy snack, get it wet under the sink and put it on the cutting board. Now use each of your ‘tooth tools’ to try and snag the fish. Be careful not to snag yourself!
The Indian gharial (shown here) is really well-adapted for catching fish. It has long jaws with sharp, pointy teeth. Did you find that the fork was best for catching that fish?
Some crocodilians, including the American alligator (shown here), like to eat animals that have hard shells, like turtles and clams. Your hard-boiled egg is going to be your turtle. For extra fun, draw a turtle on your egg! Now tap the egg with the fork, butter knife, and the back of the spoon. Which does a better job of not just piercing the egg shell, but crushing it to expose the yummy egg inside?
Alligators have blunt teeth at the back of their jaws, which are great for crushing hard prey, like turtle shells. Did you find the back of the spoon did a good job of cracking that shell into pieces?
Sometimes crocodilians like to eat even bigger things than most fish and turtles—animals so big they have to chomp them into pieces in order to fit them into their mouths. A good example is a Nile crocodile (shown here trying to eat a wildebeest). Which kind of teeth do you think are best for that? To test it out, use each of the ‘tooth tools’ to open the orange. Which one did the best job of getting to the juicy stuff inside?
A lot of crocodile teeth have special sharp edges on each side that make them better at slicing through their prey to get bite-sized pieces. Did you find the knife did the job the best?
What Did You Learn?
The best part? Some crocodilians have all three types of teeth! That means they like to eat different kinds of prey and have teeth that can do it all. So next time you’re looking at your fork, knife, or spoon, think of how you’re eating like a crocodile too!