Are there crocodiles in Spain or not? - Find out!

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Crocodiles belong to the family Crocodylidae, which belongs to the sauropsids, archosaurs. There are 14 species of crocodiles that belong to this family. These reptiles are found in Africa, America, Asia and Oceania naturally. They are reptiles with a semi-aquatic life that tend to live in groups, they are predators and their diet is mainly based on the intake of vertebrate animals. Thanks to scientific research, it is estimated that these have been on the planet for about 55 million years.

As you have seen, Europe has not been mentioned when indicating their distribution, but it has been a long time since we can find them in some places. In this Green Ecologist article we will talk about the presence of crocodiles in Spain, if these existed in the Spanish territory and for what reason they can currently be located in this area.

Are there crocodiles in Spain or not?

If you have ever wondered if there are or where there are crocodiles in Spain, let us clarify that the reality is that, currently, these they are not in Spain naturally.

The reason is that the climatic conditions of the peninsula are not ideal for these animals, as they require specific climatic conditions, that is, they need to live in areas with tropical or subtropical climates, in which the temperature is high and there is a permanent source of water for the animal to access it, since it is a semi-aquatic animal. However, although they are not by their own nature, yes we can find them.

If you want to know more about the crocodile habitat or where it lives, you can read this information here.

Why there may be crocodiles in Spain

We have previously said that crocodiles cannot survive in the peninsula naturally, but they can be found in it in isolation and not in large populations. Next, we explain the reasons why it is not impossible for a crocodile to appear in Spanish territory:

Introduction of species with CITES and illegal traffic

The species classified as protected animals or invasive species by the CITES convention cannot be caught and taken from one place to another, the hunting of these species and their trafficking is totally illegal. Although the species are protected by this agreement, there are many criminal organizations that are dedicated to the illegal trafficking of species in order to be sold in the illegal trade of species. For example, in 2022 the Civil Guard in an operation called Euler intervened in Barcelona with 3 crocodiles, in addition to 2 python snakes, 1 chameleon and 21 turtles, all these species were classified as protected or as invasive species by the CITES agreement . Also in the same year, another criminal organization was dismantled in Gran Canaria in which 4 Nile crocodiles were found, including one albino, and 2 Cuban crocodiles, among other protected species.


We can get to see crocodiles in Spain due to the existence of zoos and crocodile parks, such as the Crocodile Park in Malaga, the Bioparc in Valencia, the Zoo Aquarium in Madrid, among others.

Fauna recovery centers

In Barcelona there is the amphibian and reptile recovery center of Catalonia (CRARC). Among the reptiles of this center you can find crocodiles. The animals that are in this center come to it because they are sick, there they recover and once they are cured they are returned to their natural habitat, but only in cases where it is viable for the animal to survive. Also many of them have been abandoned or their owners simply cannot continue to maintain them. On the other hand, exotic animals also arrive from seizures for illegal traffic. Another rescue or recovery center where crocodiles are found is the Cocodrilo Park Agüimes in Gran Canaria.

Surely you have heard or seen on television when the presence of a crocodile was seen in the Pisuerga river, although these were removed without success since in the end the crocodile was not located. However, on other occasions the warnings for the presence of crocodiles have not been a false alarm. For example, in 2006 the existence of several crocodiles was confirmed in the Valmayor reservoir in Madrid.

Image: Bioparc Valencia

Were there crocodiles in Spain?

At present crocodiles do not inhabit Spain naturally and in quantity. However, according to the fossil record, they existed in this area. In fact, there was a wide variety of prehistoric crocodile species that were distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula.

For crocodiles to exist in Spain, three environmental conditions had to be met: tropical or subtropical climate, the possibility of permanently accessing water and heat. The geological moments in which there was a large presence of crocodiles on the peninsula were:

  • During the Mezosoico (Jurassic and Cretaceous). Where more fossil remains have been found has been in the deposits of the Catalan Pyrenees, Cuenca and Aragon.
  • Also in the Middle Eocene, it was a moment with great influence of crocodiles in Castile and Leon, in the river basin of the Duero river. In towns like Zamora and Salamanca fossil remains of crocodiles have also been found.
  • On the other hand, in the Lower Miocene, there is evidence that an alligator-type crocodile called Diplocynodon ratelii and it was in the area of the Vallés-Penedés basin, in Barcelona. In the image below you can see it.

Paleontologists themselves say that it is difficult to imagine that species of crocodiles, which are currently not found naturally in Spain, millions of years ago were actually roaming the peninsula.

To learn more about them you can read those other articles about the Main Characteristics of the Crocodile and the Difference between Crocodile and Alligator.

If you want to read more articles similar to Are there crocodiles in Spain?, we recommend that you enter our category of Animal Curiosities.

  • Alligator. National Geographic. Available at:
  • Drafting El Confidencial. (December 2, 2022). The confidential. They find three crocodiles, two python snakes and a chameleon on a farm in Barcelona. Available at:
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