Plants and Animals

The unknown crocodiles

The ConversationJust a few years ago, crocodilians – crocodiles, alligators and their less-known relatives – were mostly thought of as slow, lazy, and outright stupid animals. You may have thought something like that yourself the last time you were in a zoo and saw them lying still for hours, making people wonder if they were alive or made of plastic.

But people who worked with crocodilians – zoologists, breeders, animal trainers, tribal hunters – knew that these animals were capable of amazing things. And recently this knowledge has finally found support in the form of scientific publications.

Mugger crocodile using sticks to lure egrets. Vladimir Dinets, Author provided

Now we know that crocodilians have a weird communication system composed of chemical signals, various calls, infrasound vibrations too low for us to hear, and body language. They can take care of their babies for more than a year, feeding them, protecting them, even putting them together in crèches – like daycare centers protected in turn by many parents. They can disperse seeds of rainforest trees. They can bond with certain people and play with them. They can use little sticks to lure egrets looking for nesting material. And they can hunt in teams, each animal playing the role best suited for its size and agility; for example, large adult alligators can drive fish into shallows where small, agile youngsters lie in ambush.

Mugger crocodiles swimming in a circle to drive fish into a bait ball. One cuts across the circle to snatch fish. Vladimir Dinets, Author provided

Next Page

Next Page

Full Article

Leave a Comment