Croc Blog: Crocodile myths #1 - the curious trochilus
Many have attributed this behaviour to the Egyptian plover these are not problems that are going to be solved by the pecking of a bird large or small. But extrapolating this into a mutual relationship between crocodile and. Who would you hang out with and talk to about your problems? Life would be so Some have lifelong relationships with other organisms, called symbiotic relationships. Coincidentally, the Egyptian plover is also known as the crocodile bird. Crocodile and the Plover Bird What do you think this courageous bird is doing in the crocodile's mouth? Why isn't the crocodile doing anything to her? This tiny.
Crocodile and the Plover Bird
Often you will find them lazing around in the sun with their mouth wide open. They have powerful jaw muscles and can keep their mouth open for a long time. Let us look at the Plover Bird closely. She lives in pairs or in small groups near water bodies, just like our crocodile does. She flies in groups.
Egyptian plover photo - Pluvianus aegyptius - G | Arkive
When a pair lands after the flight, they greet each other by raising their wings in a way that shows the black and white marks on them. They greet each other regularly! They get into its mouth boldly, eat the food and fly away. Even when a Plover Bird is not around, his teeth still need to be cleaned! And a crocodile needs all this cleaning in spite of the following fact: A crocodile can grow new teeth through out his life. Each time an old tooth falls out a new one will grow up to replace it!
Crocodiles on the river Nile are the ones that benefit from their service. Nile crocodiles are the second largest in the world and are so ferocious that they can walk to areas much far from their water home to catch cattle prey. Can crocodiles communicate, like us?
If you have gone through the article on Bats on this website, you may have read about the way we produce sound through vocal chords. This description of a bird that cleans the teeth of crocodiles has undoubtedly entered popular culture, so much so that crocodiles are often used by advertising agencies to promote dental hygiene. But is it true? Do plovers or indeed any other birds actually clean the teeth of crocodiles? However, there's more to this story than just a simple yes or no.
First off, there's no evidence anywhere in photographs or film to show birds cleaning crocodile teeth or ripping leeches from their tongue with the exception of that particularly clever digital fake you see above; click on it for the full version and no published reports of it in peer-reviewed literature. I'd have thought a mutual relationship of this kind would have been easily observed by now.
Secondly, contrary to popular belief crocodiles do not need their teeth cleaning. They regularly shed their teeth and replace them with new ones: Tooth decay, broken teeth and staining are never a permanent problem for a crocodile.
Thirdly, food simply cannot get stuck between their teeth - they are too widely spaced for food particles to get jammed in there, and they are regularly washed with water every time the crocodile slides off the bank. While bacteria and microscopic particles can indeed become prevalent around the base of the teeth, these are not problems that are going to be solved by the pecking of a bird large or small.
Leeches are another matter, and crocodiles certainly suffer from these insidious passengers.
Egyptian Plover and Crocodile by Valerie Rae on Prezi
It's generally thought that gaping the mouth during the day helps a crocodile to dry its mouth and hence discourage leeches, but do birds also help out? If they do, it hasn't been documented as such.
So what's going on? Am I just a born skeptic? Perhaps I am, but that doesn't mean there isn't something in this compelling relationship.