3 Crocodiles could “easily eat” a stray dog ​​in their river. Instead he pushed it to safety.


When a young dog in India took refuge in a river after being chased by a pack of wild animals, he was immediately surrounded by three crocodiles. Experts say they were so close that they “could have easily swallowed it”, but when their snouts came into contact, they helped save its life.

The situation is described in a new report published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa by scientists who have spent years studying swamp crocodiles, otherwise known as magars, in Maharashtra, India. According to the Wildlife Institute of India, adult male robins can grow up to 18 feet long and weigh up to 1,000 pounds, but according to researchers, the large size does not necessarily mean they are aggressive.

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A dog was observed being given ‘safe passage’ by three crocodiles, showing a sensitive behavior of ‘cross-species empathy’.

Chavan, UM and MR Borkar (2023). Observations on cooperative fishing, use of bait for hunting, tending to marigold flowers and sentient behavior in Mugger crocodile Crocodiles palustris (Leath, 1831) of Savitri River at Mahad, Maharashtra, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 15(8): 23750–23762.


He described an example in which a young dog was being chased “by a pack of wild dogs” and was trying to escape into the Savitri River. At that time, three adult robbers were “clearly seen swimming nearby in the water and their attention was drawn to the animal”.

But instead of making the dog their next victim, two of the three crocodiles showed more “submissive behavior” than expected. Instead of eating the child, the crocodiles “guided” him away from where a pack of dogs was waiting for him on the river bank.

“These crocodiles were actually touching the dog with their snouts and causing them to move forward to climb to safety on the shore and ultimately escape,” the researchers wrote. “…Given that the robber was within attack range and could have easily eaten the dog, yet neither of them attacked and instead decided to push him to the side, this means that The hunger drive was absent.”

screen-shot-2023-09-21-at-8-19-24-am.png
A dog was observed being given ‘safe passage’ by three crocodiles, showing a sensitive behavior of ‘cross-species empathy’.

Chavan, UM and MR Borkar (2023). Observations on cooperative fishing, use of bait for hunting, tending to marigold flowers and sentient behavior in Mugger crocodile Crocodiles palustris (Leath, 1831) of Savitri River at Mahad, Maharashtra, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 15(8): 23750–23762.


But why didn’t the crocodiles use this as an opportunity to eat the dog, as they have done in other cases? Even scientists are unsure.

However, his best guess is that the robbers were simply demonstrating their emotional intelligence.

“Emotional empathy” — which allows one species “to experience the emotional feelings of another” — has not been fully investigated in these animals, he said, but it could be an answer.

“The case described here of a dog being ‘rescued’ by a group of crocodiles appears to be more a case of empathy than altruistic behaviour,” the scientists said.

In their research, scientists made another “curious” discovery – robbers love marigolds.

Crocodiles were regularly seen swimming, sunbathing and lying around the yellow and orange flowers, often maintaining “physical contact” with them. The researchers said marigold petals contain antimicrobial compounds that may help protect the skin from fungus and bacteria, and given the sewage pollution in Savitri, it is believed that exposure could help reduce such issues. Is.

“This behavior is new and interesting,” the researchers said. He said this behavior requires further investigation.

While they can’t be sure why the robbers chose to help the dog survive rather than help themselves to food, one thing is clear, the researchers said: “As far as animal cognition is concerned “Reptiles are underestimated.”


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