Yes, crocodiles are smart. Some of them even use tools like baits to lure their prey. They use these lures to trap birds.
Sophisticated is the appropriate word to describe crocodilian intelligence. Crocodiles are smart animals and hunters but not as intelligent as other animals like dolphins and chimpanzees.
How do crocodiles use lures?
There are two crocodilian species first discovered to use lures. These are the mugger and American alligators. Although alligators are not true crocodiles, they are still part of the crocodilian order.
Some birds nest close to a crocodile. An example of this is the egret. They do this because the crocs protect their eggs. When crocodiles are around, monkeys and raccoons will not dare climb the tree where the nest is.
If they did, the crocodiles would eat them. In a research trip to the Madras Crocodile Bank, a wildlife author observed that some mugger crocodiles were balancing twigs on their snouts.
The crocs stayed this way for hours. They did not move, knowing that motion would scare the birds away. They did it like their usual ambush technique, but this time with a bait.
An egret came close and tried to grab the stick. As it did so, the crocodile lunged to capture the bird. However, the bird got away. Several occurrences of the same nature happened on other crocodile habitats.
From this, researchers noted that it was not a coincidence. It was a hunting tactic. What solidified this conclusion was that the crocodiles only did this during egret mating season. At this time, demand for twigs was high because the birds had to build their nests.
Egrets fight over these twigs. Apparently, the crocodiles observed this, and they figured out that twigs have value. They knew that the egrets would take these twigs, so the crocs used them as lures or baits.
Because the crocodiles figured this out, scientists agree that crocodiles are smart and sophisticated hunters.
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How intelligent are crocodiles?
Crocodiles are smart or intelligent in some ways. However, they are not smart as some birds or primates. For one, crocodiles care for their young, which is one of the things that many sentient animals do.
Some research also showed that they hunt in groups. They can demonstrate cooperation, use communication methods, use distress sounds, and use lures.
People think that the only thing a crocodile does is bite with extreme force. A croc can bite with a force of 3,700 pounds per square inch. Quite on the contrary, it is not the only method they rely on to hunt.
Success is probably a good measure of intelligence. Crocodiles may seem lethargic, but they do have precision when hunting. They lie in wait for an ambush, covering their tracks. They have been doing this for more than 200 million years, and thus they are successful in the chain of evolution.
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Do crocodiles work as a team to hunt?
Yes, they work as a team to hunt from time to time. It is difficult to study crocodilians because they are ambush predators. In addition, they do not eat every day, so it can take years to observe them.
What one searcher did was to gather observations from amateur naturalists. The researcher, VladimirDinets, urged people to share their observations on Facebook. Dinets also reviewed the notes of many scientists, and below are some of his conclusions.
Crocodiles organize game drives. One croc would swim around a shoal of fish. Once the shoal becomes a big ball, the other crocs would take turns cutting across this ball to eat.This hunting technique is so similar to what dolphins do.
In some reports, the crocodiles take roles according to their size. For example, a large crocodile would drive the fish to the shallow water. Other crocodiles would block the exit and eat the fish.
There was even one instance where a large crocodile scared a pig. The pig had nowhere to go but in the lagoon. Unfortunately for it, two crocodiles were waiting in ambush.
According to Dinet, all these observations are enough to conclude that crocodiles hunt in groups. Crocs belong to a few animal species that can hunt in organized manners. The crocs assume different roles and functions, all of whom will help achieve one goal—to bring down prey.
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What other activities make crocodiles smart?
Crocodiles can do some things that qualify them as smart animals. Below are the top ones.
- Climbing trees – crocodiles can climb trees. Arboreal crocs have been observed in Costa Rica. People have seen baby crocodiles as high as 30 feet in trees.
- Use of tools – crocodiles use twigs to lure egrets. When they do this, they deliberately do not move so as not to alarm the birds.
- Eating veggies – crocodiles are not herbivores or omnivores. They can only sustain growth with meat. However, many of them would snack on veggies and fruits. Some of them even eat nuts.
- Animal alliances – some crocodiles work with butterflies and other animals for mutual benefit. They allow butterflies to drink their tears. They also let some birds pick on their teeth.
These things are signs that crocodiles are smart and capable of thinking. They care for their young, and they know how to work in groups. They also make sounds to communicate.
Although the crocodile is not as smart as a monkey or a dolphin, it does have a level of intelligence that makes it a fearsome predator.
Summary: are crocodiles smart?
Crocodiles are smart, and they are sophisticated hunters. They do not rely on brute strength to hunt for food aimlessly. Instead, they use tactics to lure prey, and some even coordinate with other crocodiles to target a specific prey.
There is much to learn about crocodiles and how intelligent they are. For now, the conclusion is that they are not merely instinctive animals that hunt when food is around. They can plan their moves and observe other animals—then they do what they “think” is right to increase the chances of hunting success.
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