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Crocodiles and alligators use sticks as lures

tools crocodiles alligators

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:42 PM

In recent years it has - I really, really hope - become better known that non-bird reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, alligators and so on) are not boring dullards, but behaviourally complex creatures that get up to all sorts of interesting things.

And another interesting and unexpected bit of complex behaviour has just been published. It's so interesting that I feel compelled to write about it today. It concerns what seems to be tool use in crocodiles and alligators.

http://blogs.scienti...ocs-and-gators/

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#2    QuiteContrary

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:53 PM

Very interesting! I hope they get a vid of them collecting the sticks on their snouts. I'd like to see that.

The first photo of the one with sticks on its snout, conveyed to me: Sticks on head = "Go away. Leave me alone."  lol

Edited by QuiteContrary, 02 December 2013 - 10:54 PM.


#3    ancient astronaut

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 12:31 AM

Fried alligator is awesome!!!


#4    Sundew

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 12:56 AM

Interesting, that increases our knowledge of tool using animals for sure.

I heard a story, perhaps apocryphal, that an African Safari guide came to a river and saw a couple of guys stripping down and about to go for a swim in a local river. The guide told them it was very dangerous; there were crocs in the river. They replied with a bit of arrogance that they were from the Peace Corps and went swimming anyway. Don't know if they ever recovered the bodies.

So if true these two stories prove; there are some smart Crocodilians and some dumb Homo Sapiens.


#5    pallidin

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 03:25 AM

I don't know how fast these armored beasts can travel on land if hungry, but I choose to keep a safe distance from them.


#6    third_eye

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 03:48 AM

We are getting more and more evidence of tool use from all forms of life in the natural world ... from birds to reptiles to fish ... yes fish ...





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#7    Michelle

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 04:03 AM

View Postthird_eye, on 04 December 2013 - 03:48 AM, said:

We are getting more and more evidence of tool use from all forms of life in the natural world ... from birds to reptiles to fish ... yes fish ...

some creatures just make do with what they have and what they were given at birth ... as long as it provides, it is enough ...


Awww...you made me realize how long it's been since I've been scuba diving. :cry:


#8    msmike1

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 02:45 PM

I will need a lot more evidence for me to believe that these reptiles are using tools. Not saying it is impossible, just not likely. When alligators or crocs emerge from the water with just their heads and snouts visible they do so very quietly, slowly, and with a great deal of stealth. The sticks were probably lying on top of the water and just came to rest on the animals head. I don't believe it did this intentionally. I have been around alligators all my life and have never witnessed them using tools in any way. Like I said, not saying they couldn't, just that I don't believe it is likely, and it is really someone trying to make something out of nothing.

Mike


#9    Sundew

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 12:53 AM

View Postmsmike1, on 04 December 2013 - 02:45 PM, said:

I will need a lot more evidence for me to believe that these reptiles are using tools. Not saying it is impossible, just not likely. When alligators or crocs emerge from the water with just their heads and snouts visible they do so very quietly, slowly, and with a great deal of stealth. The sticks were probably lying on top of the water and just came to rest on the animals head. I don't believe it did this intentionally. I have been around alligators all my life and have never witnessed them using tools in any way. Like I said, not saying they couldn't, just that I don't believe it is likely, and it is really someone trying to make something out of nothing.

Mike

If they frequent heron rookeries during breeding season, the nests would be full of sticks collected by the parent birds, and no doubt many fall into the water below. Therefore it is possible that researchers are seeing gators/crocs with fallen nesting material on their heads, waiting for a meal when a nestling falls from above. Any heron (re)gathering nesting material below the rookeries might make easy prey, but I see your point that it may all be accidental and not that the reptiles are gathering sticks to lure birds.

Animals do have a sense of timing where food is concerned, tool use or no. Piranhas gather yearly below heron rookeries, Tiger Sharks show up on every year in the N. W. Hawaiian islands when albatross chicks are just learning to fly, crocs during turtle nesting season. "Dumb" animals aren't so dumb after all.


#10    third_eye

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 01:36 AM

Quote

The occurrence of sticks on the crocodylians is not random: stick-displaying behaviour was most frequently observed both in those crocodylians living at rookeries and was exclusively observed during the egret and heron nesting season, being most frequent in late March and April (when the egrets and herons are working hard to find sticks) (Dinets et al. 2013).
The possibility that stick-displaying behaviour results from a random association between rookery-frequenting crocodylians and floating sticks is unlikely since floating sticks are extremely rare in the pools concerned, especially at the time of year concerned (partly this is because the local trees – baldcypresses and water tupelos – don’t shed twigs, but also because the nesting birds rapidly remove floating sticks for nest-building). Therefore, deliberate collection and employment of sticks by the crocodylians seems most likely (Dinets et al. 2013): it seems that they are practising baiting behaviour, whereby predators use objects in order to get potential prey to closely approach and hence become easier to catch. Even better, they are seemingly only practicing this baiting behaviour during a specific part of the year.

From the OP link

Seems to be quite deliberate baiting intentions to me ... the crocs are doing it with purpose ...

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#11    msmike1

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 09:30 PM

Well, if you only watch the crocs at certain times of the year, then of course you are going to see certain behaviors. The above quote is speculation at best.

Mike


#12    msmike1

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 09:33 PM

The quote above is speculation at best. During with all the commotion that goes on in those nests sticks and such fall into the water frequently. If the gator is waiting then of course the sticks fall on the animal. That floating sticks are rare is an absurd explanation.

Mike


#13    TopToffee

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 01:40 PM

They can use whatever the hell they like as long as it's not one of my legs or arms.






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