Crocodiles up Close at “Cocodrilos del Nayar” near La Peñita

Crocodiles are not only native to Mexico, they are prolific along the Nayarit coast including the fishing villages of Rincon de Guayabitos, La Peñita and La Colonia. Here, crocodiles thrive in the warm and balmy climate eating the tropical plants and sea-life that inhabit the fresh or salt water marshes along the inland waterways. According to the 2012 study, there are around 170 crocodiles living in the Bay of Jaltemba, most of them at the north end of Boca de Naranjo beach. As a species, crocodiles are reputed to have outlasted dinosaurs, dating back in time some 200 million years.

These prehistoric creatures have made this coastal region their home for a very long time, and most certainly before humans set foot. As long as we do not interfere with the crocodiles’ natural habitat, we can both exist without incident. However, recent development has and will continue to force crocodiles to go searching for new habitats and alternative food sources… don’t be surprised to discover one wandering into your open living-area or eyeing your pet for dinner. They prefer “dining” in the evening, and sleeping most of the day away (this is Mexico after all).

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Today, crocodiles are protected as a result of over-killing for their skin, once a popular boot leather. This means you can’t just “get rid” of a crocodile, even if it is threatening your space, your welfare or your pet. Instead, you must report a crocodile to the authorities, who will then remove it IF it is a nuisance. If this crocodile is a lucky one, it may be transported to a new home at Cocodrilos del Nayar, just north of La Colonia. If not deemed a threat, you can go back to sharing planet earth, together.

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Three years ago, Vicente Peña, a conservationist and wildlife educator, began work on a new project to care for nuisance crocodiles, propagate the sea turtles, protect indigenous plant life and showcase birds native to the region. With the help of his family, he purchased 40 acres of land north of La Colonia, where he is creating an eco-sphere to preserve and display species that humans are encroaching on. He started with crocodiles, constructing 8 different holding areas for these protected reptiles, ranging from babies who weigh just a few pounds to one that is a hefty 500 pounds that took eight men to lift out of the truck and into his newly constructed near-natural “home.”

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450-pound Poseidon enjoying lunch

For only $15 pesos, you can get an up-close look at these incredible prehistoric creatures and learn a little more about the delicate balance between animal and human existence. You will be able to safely see their tough leathery skin/scales, observe their ferocious incisors that are visible even with closed mouths, watch the crocodile keepers feed them almost by hand, count their five fingered web feet and discover how they digest their food using complex membranes that also allow them to reduce their body temperatures to 65 degrees so they can stay underwater for two or more hours.

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One of four young crocs currently being cared for at the cocodrilario

It’s worth the trip… for you will see crocodiles like you have never seen them before… close up. For more information about our native crocodiles, sea turtles, native flora and fauna… visit “Cocodrilos del Nayar” soon.

Cocodrilos del Nayar

“Cocodrilos del Nayar” is a temporary home for crocs that have entered people’s homes, been seen in ocean swimming areas during the day, been rescued from people (the Acutus crocodile is still protected worldwide) or hatched in a farmer’s land in Zacualpan. This project is run by a non-government organization on private land, but the tanks were built with a government grant. While this project began 3 years ago, it acquired its first crocodiles 9 months ago and just opened to the public 3 months ago. We have little crocs (400 grams) to Poseidon (4 meters and close to 450 pounds).

The entry fee of $15 pesos per person helps maintain and feed the crocodiles and the 3 full-time employees, in addition to the 3 dogs, 2 rabbits and soon, we will have a couple White-tailed deer which will be relocated to our facility from a Tepic zoo that is closing.

Location: Carretera Tepic-Puerto Vallarta at km 78 (12km north of La Peñita and 5km south of Las Varas). Watch for signs to guide you to the “Cocodrilario” and follow the road approximately 200 meters off the highway.

Hours: 8:30am-4pm Tuesday-Sunday (Closed Mondays)

Entrance Fee: $15 peso donation per person

For more information, contact Vicente Peña:
email: vpena67@hotmail.com or cell: (311) 119-2118

by Karla A. Williams, just a gringo experiencing paradise
photos by Allyson Williams

This story was submitted by one of our readers. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com

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3 Reviews on “Crocodiles up Close at “Cocodrilos del Nayar” near La Peñita”

  1. :

    Alyson, I have emailed Vincente Pena asking if there would be some one at the Conservation area on Tues. Feb.10th 2015 to explain the habitat of the crocodile (in English). And if so what would be a good time? Thank You.

    1. :

      Hi Sandra, Vicente is the only one who can provide you with that information. I'm sorry I can't be of more help.

      1. :

        Thank you Alyson for your reply. Vicente has been in touch and will be at the Crocodile Sanctuary tomorrow, Tuesday. Sandra

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