Most people believe that the crocodiles are mainly or semi aquatic and therefore, can hide and attack its prey on land and under water. Many of us would not ever imagine a crocodile climbing a tree to attack its enemy or to feed. But this is a fact, as seen by scientists from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, crocodile can easily climb and have been seen reaching up to the tree crowns.
The unique behavior of climbing trees and relaxing, by reptiles, including crocodile and alligators was for the first time, intensively studied by a research assistant professor, Vladimir Dinets, in the Department of Psychology.
To reach the conclusion, Dinets and his team of researchers studied three species of crocodile found in North America, Africa and Australia. They even studied earlier research work done so far on the topic and the other informal observation noted so far. The team found that the four species of reptiles could climb trees. The young crocodiles were seen climbing higher and outward than the large and heavy ones. And certain species were seen going upward as high as four meters and about five meters outward on a tree branch.
As per the author, the process of climbing a tree or a hill is mechanically same, considering that the branch is sufficiently wide to walk on, even though the crocodile shows a spectacular ability to climb vertically.
The crocodiles when resting on trees during night or day, when observe any approaching prey or enemy, even at a distance of 10 meters, quickly dive into water. Upon observing such a behavior, researchers say that the crocodiles climb trees, mainly under two circumstances, to keep an eye on the surroundings and to maintain thermoregulation. Moreover, this tree climbing behavior was observed in the areas where the sunlight does not reach sufficiently to the ground and the crocodiles in order to maintain their body temperature climb trees and rest on its branches. Also, this gives crocodile a better position to survey around for any advancing potential enemies and food.
Earlier the reptiles have been reported resting on shrubs and mangrove branches. The findings from the study propose that even without any morphological modifications, the crocodiles exhibit remarkable ability to ascend on trees.
Dinets further say that the findings of the study can be useful for paleontologists searching for modifications in fossils to understand the behavior of vanished crocodile species or Archosaurian taxa.
We have already seen that the crocodiles balance sticks and twig on their snouts, to lure birds looking for sticks for nesting making and catch them when close enough. The reptiles keep surprising us with their behavior and no wonders they have been successfully surviving for millions of years.