Study: Titled “Climbing behavior in extant crocodiles”

The researchers from University of Tennessee, USA studied the tree-climbing and basking behavior in reptiles, under the title, “Climbing behavior in extant crocodiles”. They noticed crocodilian species on three continents viz. Australia, Africa and North America and examined previous studies and anecdotal observations.

  • Crocodiles are known for impressive speed and agility around the water. As stated by new study, they are also capable of climbing trees. 
As per the study titled “Climbing behavior in extant crocodiles”

The scientists confirmed that four different crocodile species – found in Australia, Africa and the Americas – are all able to climb, some as high as 4m, where they were observed basking in trees.

  • These species that are able to climb trees can go as high as 4m. Their abilities also vary by size. Those small and lightweight crocs, 1.5m long, can climb the highest branches. Those heavier in weight can be found in lower branches, cannot go as high as 1m above water.
  • It was found that crocodiles developed the agility to climb trees to laze under the sun and to survey their surroundings against possible threats or for possible food.
  • The Australian freshwater crocodiles can actually climb steep slopes along riverbanks up to 1.8 m.
  • In North America, the team saw crocodiles up to 1 meter long lounging on the aerial roots and low branches of mangrove trees during the day.
  • The most commonly observed climbers were the slender-snouted crocodiles of Central Africa. Some African crocodiles roosted as high as 3m above the surface of rivers.

Crocodiles lack the toe and foot structure that would be expected of a climber. Though, smaller and juvenile crocodiles in particular were observed climbing vertically while larger ones tended to climb angled trunks and branches, all of which is a measure of the reptiles’ spectacular agility.

Researchers believe that the tree climbing and basking are driven by two conditions: thermo-regulation and surveillance of habitat. 

Note: People who spend time around crocodiles have known about the climbing ability for decades. Though, this study is the first to thoroughly examine the climbing and basking behavior. 



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