Crocky-the-Crocodile and His Crocodile Smile

There is a Crocodile named Crocky.  Crocky-the-Crocodile is his official title.  Now, speaking ‘factually’, crocodiles do not live on Vancouver Island, or anywhere in Canada for that matter.  (This is aside from the crocodiles held captive in zoos, which is a horrid thing and ought to be made illegal!)

All that said, Crocky-the-Crocodile does live on Vancouver Island, in the swamp just north of my cottage.  If you don’t believe me, why not embark on an expedition and see for yourself?  I have given you the precise coordinates: the swamp north of my cottage.  And if you don’t already know where my cottage is—well, then you never will know—for I am never going to tell someone who needs to ask.

Now, where was I?  Ah, yes… Crocky-the-Crocodile often strolls over from his swamp to my cottage, to join me for tea.  The forest animals are familiar with him now, but this certainly was not always the case.  As I’ve said, Crocky is the only crocodile in all of not just Canada, but North America. 

What you should know about Crocky is this: unlike other crocodiles, he is not a carnivore—meaning he doesn’t solely eat meat.  In fact, Crocky doesn’t eat any meat at all; he isn’t even an omnivore.  Crocky is actually a herbivore like myself, seeing as he only eats plants and fungi.  

Crocky’s favourite foods are: hotcakes drizzled with syrup collected from the local maple trees; freshly baked bread packed with pesto made from the basil leaves picked from my garden; and my homemade scones slathered with a jam made from the blackberries that grow on the bramble bushes that Misses Hops-a-lot and her six baby bunnies so love to hop away under.  I do my best to always have the latter freshly baked whenever Crocky comes to visit.

Despite Crocky’s diet of exclusively what comes from the Earth, it is understandable that the forest-dwellers were very afraid of Crocky when he initially arrived in our forest.  Most crocodiles are dangerous, after all.  There are so many tales about Mister Crocodile, but today I will tell you the story of Crocky’s first venture through the woods, all the way from his home on the swamp to my cottage in the glade…

One bright Summer’s morning, Crocky left his new home on the swamp to explore its surrounding land.  But he hadn’t even left the swamp before he ran into the first forest-dweller: it was his majesty, the Great Big Bullfrog, king of the swamp.  

The Great Big Bullfrog King was very large for a frog, although not nearly as large as Crocky-the-Crocodile.  Though both of the creatures had green skin, the bullfrog’s was quite different from Crocky’s: not scaly, but smooth—and it seemed to hang off of him and fold onto itself in weird places.

Now, Crocky has always been a very polite crocodile.  He wanted to make a good first impression on his new neighbour.  He turned to the Great Big Bullfrog King, gave him a great big crocodile smile, and said, “Greetings!  Top of the morning to you!”  And he tipped his black bowler hat.

Normally, the Great Big Bullfrog King would have been very offended by not being greeted properly: an individual of such high status expects both a low sweeping bow and a ‘your majesty’.  

The situation, however, left no space for this.  Even though the Great Big Bullfrog was a king, he was terrified!  Never before, not in all his time ruling the swamp, had he seen a creature with so many teeth!  King Bullfrog hopped away at once—Splish!  Splash!—disappearing into the swamp.

Crocky felt hurt and sad.  He had wanted to make friends with his new neighbour, invite him over for pesto bread and gin toddies.

Crocky kept swimming through the swamp until he reached the edge of the murky water. There, the green swamp turned into a green forest.  Crocky pulled himself up onto the muddy bank.  Then he propped himself up on his hind legs, to show the other forest-dwellers that he was more so a dapper gentleman than he was a creepy crocodile.  After all, he had selected not only his black bowler hat, but his favourite purple sweater too—he did look rather handsome that day.

Crocky began walking through the trees.  It wasn’t long before he ran into a family of bunny rabbits: it was none other than Misses Hops-a-lot and her six baby bunnies, of course.

Now, Misses Hops-a-lot, being a new mother, and being a good mother, was always on the lookout for anything that might pose a threat to her children.  So of course, when Crocky approached the baby bunnies, flashed them his great big crocodile smile, and said, “Salutations!  How do you all do?  My name is Crocky.  Would you like to be my friend?”, Misses Hops-a-lot’s long fluffy ears perked up at once.  She hopped away from the dandelion leaves she had been foraging and, in just one bounce, landed directly between her six baby bunnies and the menacing crocodile. 

Now, you and I know that Crocky isn’t really menacing at all!  But like his majesty, the Great Big Bullfrog King, Misses Hops-a-lot was blinded by Crocky’s abundance of teeth.  She noted that they were sharp as daggers.

“Children, run!” cried Misses Hops-a-lot.  This order, however, was a figure of speech.  What the mother rabbit really meant was ‘hop’—and that’s just what her and her six baby bunnies did: they hopped and hopped and hopped, away from Mister Crocodile, disappearing under the nearby bramble bush.

Again, Crocky felt hurt and sad.  He had thought that the baby bunnies looked like they might be fun to play with.  But Misses Hops-a-lot had mistaken that friendly gleam in his beady black eyes for ravenous hunger.

Crocky gave a heavy sigh and muttered something about all the folk in these parts being so ‘hoppy’.  Then he kept on with his walk through the woods.  He didn’t know it at the time, but he was heading for my cottage.

As Crocky drew closer to my cottage, he ran into a gang of gnomes.  A dozen gnomes were marching single-file, from their own home of Amanita muscaria, out to the caves where they mine for treasure.  This is just what gnomes do, at least the ones who live in our forest.  

Every day, twice a day—once at Morningtide and once at Eventide—this particular gang of gnomes marches past my cottage.  And as they march, I hear them singing songs…

Treasure, treasure, treasure!

We’re after Earthly pleasure!

Citrine for wealth,

Glass o’ ale for health,

Abundance in good measure!

Crocky heard the gnomes before he saw them.  And then in the evergreens they appeared: twelve little men, with long white beards, and big red noses like cherries, and tall pointy hats.  Each of them wore a different Earthy shade: some a crisp burgundy red, some a rich forest green, and some a deep ocean blue.  Crocky thought the gnomes resembled little Father Christmases.

And he liked the sound of their music so much that he decided to join in… “Treasure, treasure, treasure!  We’re after Earthly pleasure!” Mister Crocodile sang in his raspy voice, taking the place of what would be the thirteenth gnome.

But when they had reached the line ‘Abundance is in good measure!’, the gnome right in front of Crocky, turned around and said, “Hold up!  Wait just a minute here!  You’re not a gnome!”

This alarmed the other gnomes, and they too turned around to see who, or what, had joined them. 

Another gnome, the leader at the front of the line, shouted, “It’s a—it’s a—DRAGON!”

Now, of course, you and I both know that Crocky is not a dragon; he is a crocodile.  It says so in his former title: ‘Crocky-the-Crocodile’.  But from the perspective of the little gnomes—who barely stand as tall as your knees—it is understandable that a full-grown crocodile would appear to be a dragon.

And dragons are known for hoarding treasure, which gnomes also hoard.  So for this particular gang of gnomes, seeing a ‘dragon’ (Crocky) was a real fright.

But they did not run away like the Bullfrog King and the Hops-a-lot family—or rather, they did not hop away.  Instead, from out of their coat pockets, they retrieved their pickaxes, which they normally used for mining, and they started taking swings at poor Crocky!

Crocky was terrified.  Why these gnomes wanted to hurt him, he hadn’t the slightest clue.  He didn’t understand that they saw him as a menacing dragon.  To Crocky, these gnomes were merely malicious—a common misconception about gnomes.

So, Crocky did the only thing he could think of: he turned and ran away.  He ran as far as his scaly feet could take him, until eventually he found himself at my cottage in the glade.  

Crocky didn’t really know where he was going; he had simply materialized in the swamp, and then he had set off to meet the other forest-dwellers.  It was strange, however, for he had a hunch about where he was going.  There was this warm, familiar, nostalgic feeling—and he was letting it guide him.

So, when the cottage revealed itself, Crocky wasn’t sure who it belonged to.  But that warm, familiar, nostalgic feeling was more present and potent than ever.  And he could smell the freshly baked scones wafting from the open window… ones made of only plants, the herbivore crocodile hoped…

But the first individual he ran into wasn’t me; it was Buttercup.  Buttercup is a deer, but he is no ordinary deer.  Despite being a fully grown buck, and despite having his antlers, Buttercup is still covered in the speckles of a fawn.  These details, however, come from a different story—one I will tell you when you’re older.

Anyway, Buttercup was feeding on, well, the buttercup—the plant he was named after.  (Deer do not normally eat buttercup, but as I said, Buttercup is not a normal deer.)  When Crocky saw Buttercup, just as he had with both the Great Big Bullfrog King and the Hops-a-lot family, and just as he would have with the gnomes had they not attacked him, Crocky approached Buttercup, gave him a great big crocodile smile, and said, “Happy Morningtide!”

Now, Buttercup is a far braver deer than most.  (Seriously, the adventures Buttercup has been on are the most exciting, my very favourite stories to tell!)  Despite being so brave however, he cowered at the sight of Crocky’s pointy teeth.

Buttercup had but two choices: he could charge at Crocky, attack him with his antlers (Do not underestimate the strength of this attack!), or he could fall back into the cottage.  

He chose the latter, bolting through the open door and cowering under my desk—at which I was busy working.  

Once again, Crocky was hurt and sad.  But he still felt that warm, familiar, nostalgic feeling.  So, cautiously, he followed Buttercup into the cottage, pausing at the rounded doorway and merely peeking one eye inside.

One little black eye, so shiny.  And then two little black eyes, both so warm and bright.

Familiar—that’s what they were.  For when I turned around, away from my work, immediately I knew I had seen those eyes before.

And then the whole face revealed itself, that familiar face comprised of green scales.  That familiar crocodile smile.

If it had been any other crocodile standing in my doorway, I would have been very frightened; I would have been trembling just as Buttercup was.

And I could hear Buttercup speaking to me—not with the human tongue the way many of the other animals do—but with the woodland tongue.

Aren’t you scared? is what the buck said.

Of Crocky-the-Crocodile? I replied in the woodland tongue, which living in the forest for so long has allowed me to learn.  Never.

For it was no ordinary crocodile at my doorstep: it was Mister Crocodile, himself!  The very character I had just been writing about, in fact.  Even though it had been decades since I had seen Crocky, and the last time I had, I was only ten or so years of age, I recognized him—thanks to his favourite purple sweater, and his classy bowler hat, and his beady black eyes.

So, this time when Crocky said, “Hello, mate!  Isn’t this a pleasant surprise?”, all the while, giving me his great big crocodile smile, unlike the other forest-dwellers, I was not afraid.  There was this warm, familiar, nostalgic feeling that told me exactly who he was. 

“Why, yes, this is a pleasant surprise!” I greeted him, giving him my own human smile.  “And quite a synchronicity: not only was I writing a story about you, but I just took a batch of scones out of the oven!”

Through his large, green, scaly nostrils, Crocky took a deep, audible inhale.  “I can smell as much!” he cried excitedly.  

“Scones slathered in blackberry jam—I remember these being one of your favourites!”

“Yes, they are!”  Crocky confirmed.  But then he got a bit sheepish and said, “Do you—do you remember that I am a herbivore?”

“I sure do!” I said.  “I am a herbivore as well.  These scones are made solely from plants.”

“Wonderful!” Crocky cried in glee.

And we had tea and scones in my cottage.  Buttercup grew less and less afraid of Crocky over the course of the tea.  Crocky told me all about his journey from his new home on the swamp to my cottage: about the folk he had met and how they had been so afraid of him.

“It really hurt my feelings!” Crocky confessed, tearing up.  “I know I’m a crocodile.  And I know I have long, sharp, menacing teeth.  But I am a herbivore!  I only eat plants and fungi.  I’m no threat to the other forest-dwellers.”

I’m sorry, Buttercup said in his woodland tongue.  I judged you by your appearance, and I see now that I shouldn’t have.  That was wrong of me.

“It’s alright,” Crocky said.  “I forgive you.  I can see why you would be afraid of me.  Oh, I wish I wasn’t so big and scary!”

I then had an idea.  “Are you up for a quest today, Buttercup?”  The deer always was.  So, I wrote a letter to the Great Big Bullfrog King, Misses Hops-a-lot, the gang of gnomes, and all the other forest-dwellers that might happen across Mister Crocodile.  And I sent Buttercup to deliver the letters.

As Crocky and I watched Buttercup gallop away from my cottage, I mused, “Hmm… it’s funny… now I know how to finish that story…”


The next time Crocky journeyed from his home on the swamp to my cottage in the woods, he did so with ease.  The forest-dwellers were no longer afraid of him.

The Great Big Bullfrog King croaked, “Greetings, citizen!”  (Crocky now understood the importance of bowing in King Bullfrog’s presence and referring to him as ‘your majesty’.)

Misses Hops-a-lot watched fondly as Crocky played hopscotch with her six baby bunnies.  They were all so very fond of dear Mister Crocodile.  But particularly fond was the youngest bunny; his name was Bun and, like Crocky, his favourite food was also scones.

The gang of gnomes now understood that Crocky was not a dragon, and they allowed Crocky to join in their merry parade anytime he crossed paths with them.

Yes, the forest-dwellers had received the letters I had sent them, explaining who this crocodile is and how he is not a threat.  Nowadays, when Crocky takes a walk through the woods, many of the forest-dwellers sing…


Fear not his crocodile smile!

The forest in which we reside is full of surprises; things are not always what they seem.  Our local crocodile is a herbivore, and his crocodile smile is nothing but a friendly gesture.  Indeed, the forest-dwellers had learned the importance of not making assumptions about others.