A study conducted by the University of Tennessee has found evidence of ‘arboreality’ among various species of crocodile across the world, meaning that the reptiles we assumed could only be a lurking threat beneath the murky surface of the water can actually climb trees, as well.
According to the study, tree climbing is most common in areas with few convenient areas for land basking to cool off or warm up the cold-blooded animals. Tree-climbing is a means of thermoregulation. Or rather, at least it is during the day.
Tree climbing has other benefits, especially at night. According to the study, “one key role of arboreal basking is, in fact, site surveillance and increased individual security through longer distance observation of potential threats from a vantage point where escape is as easy as falling off a log.”
Local residents of some areas report seeing crocodiles in trees from time to time, but researchers have only recently documented this behaviour.
The crocodiles are watching, they just don’t like to be observed watching. So when they see a researcher approaching, they pretend they were in the water all along.
It just goes to show, no matter how much we think we know, there is always more to learn.