Most people entering crocodile
territory keep a wary eye out on water and land, but research suggests they
need to look up.
Though the reptiles lack obvious physical
features to suggest this is possible, crocodiles in fact climb trees all the
way to the crowns, according to University of Tennessee researcher Vladimir
Researchers in the climbing study observed
crocodiles in Australia, Africa and North America. The study documented
crocodiles climbing as high as six feet (1.8 metres) off the ground. But Dinets
said he received anecdotal reports from people who spend time around crocodiles
of the reptiles climbing almost 30 feet (9 metres).
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Dinets said crocodiles lack the toe and
foot structure that would be expected of a climber. However, smaller and
juvenile crocodiles in particular were observed climbing vertically while
larger ones tended to climb angled trunks and branches, all of which is a
measure of the reptiles' spectacular agility, he said.
"They just go slowly," he said.
"Eventually they get there."
do crocodiles climb trees?
The researchers believe the crocodiles
climb to keep a lookout on their territory and to warm themselves in the sun.
"The most frequent observations of
tree-basking were in areas where there were few places to bask on the ground,
implying that the individuals needed alternatives for regulating their body
temperature," the authors wrote.
"Likewise, their wary nature suggests
that climbing leads to improved site surveillance of potential threats and
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have known about this for years
People who spend time around crocodiles
have known about the climbing ability for decades, Dinets said, but this study
is the first to thoroughly examine the climbing and basking behaviour.
Dinets also was co-author of a widely
reported study in 2013 that demonstrated crocodiles used sticks and twigs to
hunt, balancing nest-building material on their snouts just above the water
line to lure birds. The crocodiles lay in wait for hours and lunged when a bird
That finding was the first reported use of
tools by any reptile and the first known case of predators timing the use of
lures to a seasonal behaviour in their prey, according to a University of
Tennessee press release at the time.
Picture: Crocodile climbing a tree from Shutterstock
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