Vladimir Dinets from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has a recently published study in the magazine Animal Behavior and Cognition, in which he proves that crocodiles are lovable and sociable creatures, despite their fearful appearance. Crocodiles love to play in manners that can be closely be associated with the human ludic spirit, enjoying activities such as piggyback rides, playing the ball or sifting waves.
After investigating them closely, Dinets has found that crocodiles actually play with streams of water, love noisy ceramic artefacts, wooden balls, and enjoy “hunting” different objects that might be floating in the water.
“I present the first overview of play behavior of three types (locomotor play, object play and social play) in crocodilians based on original observations, published reports and anecdotal evidence,”
This is reportedly the first scientific study that investigated the ludic side of the crocodiles, thus shedding some light regarding the evolution of intelligence among animals. It clearly proves that play is a universal feature that is not only seen in humans.
Vladimir Dinets had been studying crocodiles for over 10 years.Dinets’ earlier researches proved that crocodiles can also climb trees, can work well with other crocodiles and even use lures in order to hunt their prey.
The study has also pointed out that crocodiles can get attached to human beings, who they consider reliable playmates. For instance the scientist evoked a story according to which a crocodile that had been shot in the head and rescued by a man afterwards, developed true feelings for his saviour. It appears that the two became close friends and would play together without restrictions. The only thing that separated them was the death of the crocodile, 20 years later.
He added that their playing routine often implied the crocodile swimming with the human,or trying to startle him by suddenly pretending to attack him or by sneaking up on him. But he equally accepted being caressed and kissed on the snout.
What Dinets is trying to encourage though these findings is the development of friendlier and more relaxed habitats for crocodiles living in captivity. Their having some toys and enough room to play would make them healthier, more content and with a longer life span than usual.