Crocodiles are not just sluggish creatures that lay under the sun waiting for their trap all day long. A new study has found that certain species of crocodiles can climb trees as far as four meters high, despite lacking the morphological adaptation of climbing vertically. The study was conducted by Vladimir Dinets, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and his colleagues at the University of Tennessee.
"Climbing a steep hill or steep branch is mechanically similar, assuming the branch is wide enough to walk on. Still, the ability to climb vertically is a measure of crocodiles' spectacular agility on land", the authors wrote.
The team monitored the behavior of the crocodiles existing in three continents- Africa, Australia and North America. It turned out that about four species of this reptile could climb trees. Moreover, smaller crocodiles can climb higher than the larger ones.
The crocodiles that were observed climbing trees, whether during day or at night, were found restless, falling or jumping into the water when an approaching observer was about ten meters away. This peculiar response led the researchers to believe that the climbing behavior is associated with surveillance and thermoregulation of habitat.
"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. Likewise, their wary nature suggests that climbing leads to improved site surveillance of potential threats and prey", they added.
Some previous research on this species that includes crocodile, alligators and caimans- found that this group uses tools such as twigs and branches to set a trap for birds. As soon as the bird gets closer it falls prey to the trap. They use this trick in a particular time of the year.
The details of the findings have been published in Herpetology Notes Journal.