Like all crocodilians (crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials), this species is an effective aquatic predator (6). It feeds on a wide range of prey, including fish, crustaceans and amphibians. It is also thought that this species may feed on some terrestrial prey species (2). The diet of the Congo dwarf crocodile tends to change throughout the year, with fish being taken in the wet season when swollen rivers bring an influx of fish into their habitats. In the dry season, they feed mainly on crustaceans (2). During the wet season, dwarf crocodiles make extensive forays on land at night (4).
Crocodiles maintain their body temperature by basking when they are cool and seeking shade when they become too hot. In the water they swim powerfully using their tails, and they walk on land using the erect “high walk” gait unique to crocodilians (6). There have been reports of galloping behaviour in this species – a bounding run back to the safety of water when threatened on land (2).
This species is generally solitary except during the breeding season (2). Females make nests from mounds of vegetation and nest building starts early on in the wet season. They lay clutches of around 10 hard-shelled eggs which take about 100 days to incubate (4). Females guard the nest and the young, which measure 28 cm in length upon hatching (2). Immediately after they hatch, the young vocalise, which stimulates the female to help the hatchlings to escape from the nest (6). Young crocodiles tend to feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans and small fish and begin to feed on more vertebrates as they increase in size (6). Typical of crocodilians, females normally reach maturity at smaller sizes than males (6).