Academic journal article Science Scope

Study Finds That Crocodiles Climb Trees

Academic journal article Science Scope

Study Finds That Crocodiles Climb Trees

Article excerpt

When most people envision crocodiles, they think of them waddling on the ground or wading in water--not climbing trees. However, a new study has found that the reptiles can climb trees as far as the crowns.

Vladimir Dinets is the first to thoroughly study the tree-climbing and -basking behavior. Dinets and his colleagues observed crocodile species on three continents--Australia, Africa, and North America--and examined previous studies and anecdotal observations. They found that four species climbed trees, usually above water, but how far they ventured upward and outward varied by their sizes. The smaller crocodiles were able to climb higher and farther than the larger ones. Some species were observed climbing as far as 4 m high in a tree and 5 m down a branch.

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"Climbing a steep hill or steep branch is mechanically similar, assuming the branch is wide enough to walk on," the researchers note in their published paper. "Still, the ability to climb vertically is a measure of crocodiles' spectacular agility on land."

The crocodiles seen climbing trees, whether at night or during the day, were skittish of being recognized, jumping or falling into the water when an approaching observer was as far as 10 m away. …

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