Crocodiles Observed Using Twigs to Lure Birds

Posted on December 8, 2013

Mugger Crocodile with sticks on its nose to lure birds


Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has observed crocodiles using lures to attract prey. Dinets observed mugger crocodiles and American alligators using twigs and sticks to lure in birds during nest-building season. In the above photograph, a mugger crocodile is pictured with small sticks on its nose at Madras Crocodile Bank, Tamil Nadu in India.

Dinets first observed the stick use by crocodiles in a pond in India. The crocodiles remained still for hours and would lunge if a bird approached one of the sticks on its nose. Dinets and colleagues also observed the reptiles at four sites (two rookery sites and two non-rookery) in Louisiana for a year. A rookery is a bird breeding ground. The researchers found alligators used the stick technique only during nest-building season at the non-rookery sites. The alligators used the stick lures both during and after nest-building season at the two rookery sites.

Dinets says in a release, "This study changes the way crocodiles have historically been viewed. They are typically seen as lethargic, stupid and boring but now they are known to exhibit flexible multimodal signaling, advanced parental care and highly coordinated group hunting tactics."

The research was published here in Ethology, Ecology and Evolution.

Photo: Vladimir Dinets