NewsMeet the Indian Mud Crocodiles. From bloodthirsty predators to empathetic flower admirers and dog rescuers.

Meet the Indian Mud Crocodiles. From bloodthirsty predators to empathetic flower admirers and dog rescuers.

They love flowers and are empathetic? Sounds like a plot of the fairy tale "The big green house crocodile".
They love flowers and are empathetic? Sounds like a plot of the fairy tale "The big green house crocodile".
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons
3:46 PM EST, January 17, 2024

This study was primarily conducted in the Savitri River, located in Maharashtra, India. The authors of the most recent report on these Mud Crocodiles propose that these creatures might be more sophisticated than previously thought.

Crocodiles displaying dolphin-like behavior

According to the study, there were several instances where groups of crocodiles used a technique similar to that of dolphins. They formed a whirlpool around a shoal of fish, trapping them, and making it easier for the crocodiles to catch their prey.

It was also observed that Mud Crocodiles have developed intricate strategies for luring certain birds, such as herons, using sticks as bait.

"These birds typically use sticks for nest-building, and the competition for the best twigs can be fierce. Thus, a stick placed on the snout of a crocodile can appear to be a tempting option," states a report from Live Science.

Are they sympathetic flower admirers?

Scientists report that Mud Crocodiles seem to show a particular interest in Marigold flower garlands that end up in the water during funeral rites. However, they merely swim near them without causing any harm.

The most remarkable observation made was when a group of Mud Crocodiles, rather than attacking a dog in the river, assisted it in safely reaching the shore.

"The crocodiles guided the dog away from the spot where it was at risk of being attacked by a pack of wild dogs waiting on the riverbank. The crocodiles nudged the dog with their snouts, directing it to the shore and facilitating its escape," the researchers described the situation.

In their view, this might be indicative of empathetic behavior from these predators.

Expert tempers emotional responses

Live Science contacted an expert who provided a more measured response to the latest reports on crocodiles.

"Crocodiles do demonstrate a sophisticated set of behaviors. However, some of these conclusions attempt to apply human concepts of intelligence to crocodiles," explains Duncan Leitch, a biologist specializing in reptile neurophysiology at the University of California.
Related content