At the beginning, membership was not strictly regulated and it was based on personal introduction. The journalist and writer Julius Grosse (1828-1902) recalls: "Around Paul Heyse [1830-1914] had already gathered a number of other people, foreigners and locals, who had not yet found the appropriate ideas for themselves [...]. On Sunday afternoons, we met at the café Zur Neuen Stadt München in Kaufingerstraße to spend a few hours on literary Masonry." (Julius Waldemar Grosse, Ursachen und Wirkungen, 1896) It was an attempt to bring together the great local writers with the "northerners" who had arrived (November 5, 1856); nonetheless, it was still a long way to the foundation of an official poets' society "Das Krokodil" (The Crocodile) in the winter of 1857.
It was not until 1862 that a statute was adopted regulating the admission of new members. Admission was to take place on suggestion of a member, the candidate would be invited, and then the final decision was felled by unanimous balloting, for which the agreement of absent members had to be obtained. The following provisions were adopted in 1863:
§1: guests to be introduced shall be registered at a previous evening meeting of the Society, which may refuse the introduction. This registration can only be refused if the short sojourn of the person to be introduced makes it impossible; in this case the guest is to be registered with the president, event[ually] with the vice-president.
§2: guests may not give lectures on the first two occasions of their participation, with the exception of passing literary notabilities and writers who, in their absence, the literary works of which had previously been presented to the society and had en passant been accepted.
The members included a wide variety of professional groups, including above all writers, high school and university professors as well as private scholars. Journalists, directors and artistic managers, officers and lawyers made up a smaller percentage. Honorary members as well as guests were among them. The founding members of the "crocodiles" included the following names: the writers Friedrich Bodenstedt (1819-1892), Felix Dahn (1834-1912), Emanuel Geibel (1815-1884), Wilhelm Hemsen (1829-1885), Paul Heyse (1830-1914), Hermann Lingg (1820-1905), Melchior Meyr (1810-1871); the scholars Moritz Carrière (1817-1895), Sigmund Lichtenstein (1822-1881), Karl von Lützow (1832-1897), Adolf Zeising (1810-1876); the lawyer Leonhard Hamm (1849-1880). The protocol and account books of the "crocodiles", kept since the beginning of 1858, list about 30 ordinary members for the initial period. The ideal type of "crocodile" was the poet, who also pursued an academic profession.
Many members received an internal nicknam , which had a unifying function and was linked to the name of the poets' association: Bodenstedt was called "Apis", Dahn "Gnu", Geibel "Flusskrokodil", Hemsen "Scarabäus", Wilhelm Hertz (1835-1902) "Werwolf", Heyse "Eidechs", Heinrich Leuthold (1827-1879) "Alligator", Lingg "Teichkrokodil", Meyr "Ibis", Grosse "Ichneumon", Max Beilhack (1835-1885) "Rhino", Carrière "Schiff der Wüste", Karl Lemcke (1831-1913) "Hyäne", Lichtenstein "Nilpferd", Lützow "Biber" and Karl Woldemar Neumann (1830-1888) "Schwertfisch". All these creatures cavorted around the "Holy Pond", as the "crocodiles" called their meeting place in accordance with Hermann Lingg's humorous poem "Das Krokodil zu Singapur". Whether the metaphor of its name expressed a deeper meaning or contained only a humorous component, based on the general exoticism of the time, must remain undecided.