When most people envision crocodiles, they think of them waddling on the ground or wading in water, not basking on a tree branch. However, a University of Tennessee study, published in the journal Herpetology Notes, has found that the reptiles can climb trees as far as the crowns.
Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, and his colleagues observed crocodile species on three continents — Australia, Africa, and North America. They found that four species climbed trees. The smaller crocodiles were able to climb higher and further than the larger ones. Some species were observed climbing as far as four meters high in a tree and five meters down a branch.
The researchers believe that crocodiles climb trees for two reasons: regulating their body temperature, and surveying the area for potential threats and prey.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.