Here is another excerpt from Divining with Animal Guides.
Crocodiles have a reputation for being smart. A significant facet of their intelligence is their ability to learn through observation. Crocodiles take a keen interest in the habits of wildlife along the river and plan their predation strategy accordingly. They seem to anticipate daily schedules and migration patterns. Sometimes they hunt cooperatively, using combined strength to drown a large animal or pull it apart. They may form two separate groups and herd fish into an ambush. They remain still and hidden for long periods of time, then move with lightning speed when it’s time to strike. They are long-lived animals, which might be another reason crocodile goddess Neith is considered the oldest deity.
Wealthy Egyptians liked to keep crocodiles as pets. A household crocodile was a pampered creature, given a courtyard pond for lounging and freedom to explore the house. Having the croc around brought the family fertility, wealth, protection and general good luck.
The temple crocodile was treated as the living representation of the crocodile god, usually but not always Neith’s son Sobek. As with any deity, the crocodile god lived in lush surroundings, entertained by temple musicians, and wore bracelets and body piercings of the most exquisite workmanship. When a divine crocodile died, he would be mummified like any great leader and given a funeral. Pet crocodiles were also mummified, according to the family’s means. During the last millennium BCE, some temples kept a stock of crocodiles to be sold as sacrifices to Sobek, and these crocodiles were also mummified, occasionally with their babies, although not with the same precision as a divine crocodile or a pet croc. From this temple stock, a new living deity would be chosen and given the same name as the crocodile now making his journey to eternal life.
There are many questions about this process that the Egyptians left unanswered. Questions like, how do you tell the difference between a divine crocodile and an ordinary one? Outside culinary donations, how do you know when a live crocodile approves of your offering, since they appear to have only one facial expression? And, most importantly, who takes a job as a crocodile body piercer?