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Crocodiles Can Be Tree-Climbers, Research Finds

Update Date: Feb 12, 2014 09:09 AM EST

Crocodiles, that are thought to be slow swimmers and ground waddlers, can sometimes accomplish the ability to climb trees, according to U.S. researchers. 

Researchers observed crocodile species residing in three continents - Australia, Africa and North America. They found that four species were able to climb trees above water. However, the ability of venturing outward varied according to their sizes, researchers said. 

Crocodiles carrying smaller body were able to climb higher and further out compared to larger ones. Researchers also found that some species were observed climbing as far as 13 feet high in a tree. 

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

Thermoregulation and surveillance of habitat were the two conditions that are responsible for tree climbing and basking. Researchers added that the ability to climb vertically on trees was species' spectacular agility on land. 

Crocodiles were also seen hiding up in the trees to better stake out its prey. 

"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," they added in the study. "Likewise, their wary nature suggests that climbing leads to improved site surveillance of potential threats and prey."

Results of the study of reptiles' tree-climbing and tree-basking behavior has been published in the journal Herpetology News.



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