How strong is a crocodile's skin?

A man touching a crocodile skin.

The toughness of the crocodile’s armor is indeed amazing.

Naturalist R. L. Ditmars observes:

“Against javelins and arrows the hide is undoubtedly invulnerable.” (Reptiles of the World)

Just what is the makeup of the crocodile’s hide?

Tough horny scales embedded in bony plates cover the upper parts of the back and the tail.

The horny scales are arranged in rows.

Most of them have a ridge or keel.

The underside consists of smooth horny scales.

These usually have no bony plates beneath them.

Especially toward the throat, however, there may be some small bony platelets.

The sides of the crocodile’s body are covered with small knobby scales.

On account of these scales the sides can stretch or expand—a vital requirement for breathing and, in the case of the female, an essential for accommodating the expansion resulting from pregnancy.

Because of its valuable hide, the crocodile has been slaughtered ruthlessly by those seeking quick profits.

For leather goods, only the under surfaces are used.

Whenever small bony platelets are present in the underside, the commercial value of the hide may be reduced.