Toothy Cuties: Rare Siamese Crocs Hatch

Baby Siamese crocodiles hatch in Laos.
A recently-hatched Siamese crocodile at the Laos Zoo. The crocodiles are critically endangered, so conservationists are raising them in captivity for later release in the wild. (Image credit: M. Douangmyxay/WCS Laos Program)

Welcome to the world, baby crocodiles! Scientists in Laos have successfully hatched a clutch of 20 rare Siamese crocodiles, a species critically endangered by hunting and habitat loss.

The baby crocs will be released after they turn two, giving them a greater chance of survival in the wild, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which worked with the government of Laos to incubate and hatch the eggs at the Laos Zoo.

"We're thrilled at the prospect of augmenting the wild population of Siamese crocodiles with a new batch of healthy juveniles," Chris Hallam, the WCS crocodile project coordinator, said in a statement. [See photos]

Siamese crocodiles are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The reptiles grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) in length and feed on fish and snakes. According to conservation agency Fauna & Flora International, the crocs have never been known to attack humans. There are only about 250 adult Siamese crocodiles left in the wild.

A newly hatched Siamese crocodile rests its head on an unhatched egg at the Laos Zoo. Twenty baby crocodiles recently hatched and will be released into the wild after they turn two. (Image credit: M. Douangmyxay/WCS Laos Program)

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.