A recent study from Animal Behavior and Cognition uncovered a softer and more playful side of the sometimes aggressive crocodile
One researcher from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) led a study on the natural behaviors of crocodiles. Dr. Vladimir Dinets came to his conclusion after a full analysis that included scientific research and observation. He explained that many crocodile behaviors are not quite understood because of their rare occurrences. It is also difficult to observe nocturnal predators in their natural habitat.
Crocodiles at play
There are three different types of playful behaviors exhibited by crocodiles. These behaviors include social play, locomotor play and object play. Examples of such play include swimming into waterfalls, chasing other crocodiles and sliding down slopes. Dinets added that the behaviors may sometimes be accidental. However, he noted that on two occasions, it appeared as if the animals were at play.
The study goes into detail, suggesting that crocodiles gravitate to pink objects, often for biting and manipulating. One alligator at the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida played with otters when one otter slipped on the steep bayou bank. An alligator grabbed the otter across its chest and moved back into the water while pulling the otter down with it. Five seconds later, the gator emerged with the unharmed otter. Similar playful interactions continued to take place in the following days.
Crocodile and human interactions
Crocodiles also sometimes play with their prey. Reports suggest crocodiles know how to balance sticks on their nose as a way to lure birds. Perhaps even more surprising is the bond the animals sometimes develop with humans. One Costa Rican man saved a baby crocodile, nurturing it back to health. The man formed a strong bond with the animal, and the two frequently played together. Crocodiles are truly mysterious and remarkable creatures.