Crocodiles Can Climb Trees: Researchers In Climbing Study Observed

Crocodiles Can Climb Trees: Researchers In Climbing Study Observed


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
Dinets. Researchers in the climbing study observed crocodiles in Australia, Africa and
North America. The study documented crocodiles climbing as high as six feet off the ground.
But Dinets said he received anecdotal reports from people who spend time around crocodiles
of the reptiles climbing almost 30 feet. 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.” The finding was reported in January in Herpetology
Notes in collaboration with Adam Britton from Charles Darwin University in Australia and
Matthew Shirley from the University of Florida. 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 prey.” 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 behavior. 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 ventured near. 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 behavior in their prey, according to a University of Tennessee press
release at the time. The latest climbing study suggests paleontologists studying extinct
species should be cautious about drawing conclusions from fossils, adds Dinets. “If crocodiles
were extinct and you only knew them from fossils, you wouldn’t be able to guess they climb trees
because they don’t have any physical adaptations,” Dinets said. “Assumptions based on fossils,
he said, can be “far less correct than people think.”

26 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I'll be damned….. Watch out when walking under large branches, it might start raining teeth.

  2. Man , whats with lizards and trees ? Crocs in the Ocean, what would win 1/2 ton Croc Vs  1/2 ton Great White

  3. Okay, this is absurd. No wonder these things haven't evolved in tens of millions of years. These things are ridiculous.

  4. In Papua New guinea there is a breed of lizard called tree crocodiles , with scientific name as Salvatoris monitor ( Varanus Salvatorensis) which incidentally is the longest Lizard in the world (15 feet) . It dwells on trees. Does these pictures are showing are actually aSalvatories monitors rather than crocs?

  5. OMG there were shots of Goannas there at least when you do a video make sure all the footage is of what your talking about.

  6. Well, let's put it this way. I'll concede that they can climb up the trunks, and into the branches, of slanted trees growing right next to the water! But, that's about it.

  7. Do you really need to use a monitor lizard for this illustration? It weakened your video terribly.

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