Hello, hello! Thursday is blog day, and today we’re taking a look at a bird in a Crocodile’s mouth.
“What? Get that bird out of there before he becomes lunch!” you might shriek. But it’s not like that in the friendship between the Egyptian Plover Bird and the Crocodile. Indeed, they have what is known as a symbiotic relationship, also known as Mutualism.
As you know, Crocodiles are predators and eat meat. While you as a human can floss your teeth to clean out any leftover bits that may get stuck in them, Crocodiles don’t know how to floss (and I don’t think you’ll find floss in the wild)! So, they befriended a little bird known as the Egyptian Plover Bird or the ‘Crocodile Bird’. They made a deal, you see; free food for the Plover and clean teeth for the Croc! Sounds gross if you think about it (hah!), but nature is strange that way sometimes!
There are many examples of symbiosis in nature, with some of these featuring the most unlikely couples you can imagine!
1 – Crabs and Sea Anemones. In the ocean, Anemones will ride on the back of a Crab to get from A to B. The Anemone gets to where they need to go, and the Crab stays protected from predators.
2 – Sucker Fish and Sharks. While Sharks eat fish every day, they will ‘adopt’ a few Sucker Fish to ride alongside them and eat parasites from their body. In turn, the Sucker Fish get free food and remain protected from other ocean predators.
3 – The Warthog and the Mongoose. The Warthog allows the Mongoose to fiddle and pick at the bugs, like ticks and other parasites, under their wiry hair. The Warthog gets a good cleaning while the Mongoose gets a good meal.
4 – Coyotes and Badgers. These two friends hunt together, despite the presumption that the Coyote would actually see the Badger as food. The Coyotes chase prey into their dens, while the Badgers wait hidden near those dens for their dinner to arrive. They don’t always eat together, but they both increase their chances of a meal by relying on their friendship.
5 – The Dotted Humming Frog and the Colombian Lesserblack Tarantula. These two share a burrow, even though the Tarantula could make a tasty meal of the Frog. The Frog receives protection from predators by living with the Tarantula, and the Tarantula’s eggs stay protected from ants which are eaten by the Frog.
Quite amazing, don’t you think? Nature is wonderful! Take a look at this short video below to see just how the Crocodile Birds interact with the Crocs.
Rose wrote a book about a Crocodile in the River Nile called ‘If I Were A Crocodile’. Her series ‘What Are Your Teeth Like?’ was written as a way for young children to explore the differences between their own unique human teeth and the teeth of some awesome animals. In the series she looks at Elephants, Beavers, Whales and – of course – the great Nile Crocodile!
Have you ever seen a Crocodile up close, or even seen a Plover Bird cleaning a Croc’s teeth? If you have, we’d really love to hear about it and see any pictures you may want to share. You can send them to me via my page on Rose’s website, or via Facebook or Twitter.
We hope you enjoyed today’s blog, although we do suggest that you never go near to a Croc. While they might look slow and lazy, they can move extremely fast and may even mistake you for food!
Until next week, keep smiling,
If I Were A Crocodile