A psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has found that crocodiles are up for a bit of fun.
They surf waves, play with balls, dress up with flowers and love a piggyback ride.
Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in psychology, watched for a decade and discovered their softer side. To confirm his experience wasn’t unique, he informally surveyed crocodilian-themed groups on social media and various conferences.
It all matched up and Dinets just had a paper published in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition. You can read it in full here.
Dinets classified croc play time into three categories – locomotor play, play with objects and social play.
Of the three, they love just mucking about with stuff the most. Wooden balls, noisy ceramic bits, streams of water, their prey (ha-ha!) and debris floating in the water.
Young crocodilians love a bit of thrill-seeking water-play – sliding down slopes, surfing ocean waves and riding currents of water in their pools.
There’s plenty of piggy-backing, and not just youngsters hitching a ride. Dinets cites instances of one male crocodile giving his lifetime mate free rides.
Incredibly, crocodiles don’t always see other animals as a meal. Once, Dinets watched a juvenile alligator play with a river otter.
And he cites a case where they have even become friendly with humans in one man who rescued a crocodile that had been shot in the head. The pair became close mates and happily played every day until the crocodile’s death 20 years later.
“The croc would swim with his human friend, try to startle him by suddenly pretending to attack him or by sneaking up on him from behind, and accept being caressed, hugged, rotated in the water and kissed on the snout,” Dinets wrote.
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