Croc Blog: Crocodile myths #1 - the curious trochilus
Egyptian plovers and crocodiles have a unique symbiotic relationship. Crocodiles can't use dental floss, they get food stuck in their teeth. All that food rots their. Well, not the Egyptian Plover bird. Egyptian plovers and crocodiles have a unique symbiotic relationship. Because crocodiles cannot use dental floss, they get. May 15, Of all the symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom, those that occur The symbiotic relationship between the crocodile and the plover bird.
It is while swallowing that the bits of flesh get stuck in their teeth. You will find them swimming just like this beneath the surface of water with their eyes and nostrils just above.
Often you will find them lazing around in the sun with their mouth wide open. They have powerful jaw muscles and can keep their mouth open for a long time. Let us look at the Plover Bird closely.
Crocodile and the Plover Bird
She lives in pairs or in small groups near water bodies, just like our crocodile does. She flies in groups.
When a pair lands after the flight, they greet each other by raising their wings in a way that shows the black and white marks on them. They greet each other regularly! They get into its mouth boldly, eat the food and fly away.
Even when a Plover Bird is not around, his teeth still need to be cleaned! And a crocodile needs all this cleaning in spite of the following fact: A crocodile can grow new teeth through out his life. Each time an old tooth falls out a new one will grow up to replace it!
Egyptian plover - Wikipedia
Crocodiles on the river Nile are the ones that benefit from their service. Nile crocodiles are the second largest in the world and are so ferocious that they can walk to areas much far from their water home to catch cattle prey.
But is it true?
- Egyptian plover
Do plovers or indeed any other birds actually clean the teeth of crocodiles? However, there's more to this story than just a simple yes or no.
First off, there's no evidence anywhere in photographs or film to show birds cleaning crocodile teeth or ripping leeches from their tongue with the exception of that particularly clever digital fake you see above; click on it for the full version and no published reports of it in peer-reviewed literature.
I'd have thought a mutual relationship of this kind would have been easily observed by now. Secondly, contrary to popular belief crocodiles do not need their teeth cleaning. They regularly shed their teeth and replace them with new ones: Tooth decay, broken teeth and staining are never a permanent problem for a crocodile. Thirdly, food simply cannot get stuck between their teeth - they are too widely spaced for food particles to get jammed in there, and they are regularly washed with water every time the crocodile slides off the bank.
While bacteria and microscopic particles can indeed become prevalent around the base of the teeth, these are not problems that are going to be solved by the pecking of a bird large or small.
Crocodile and the Plover Bird – SmallScience
Leeches are another matter, and crocodiles certainly suffer from these insidious passengers. It's generally thought that gaping the mouth during the day helps a crocodile to dry its mouth and hence discourage leeches, but do birds also help out?
If they do, it hasn't been documented as such. So what's going on? Am I just a born skeptic? Perhaps I am, but that doesn't mean there isn't something in this compelling relationship. Birds of various species are often found feeding in close proximity to crocodiles, and immobile crocodiles basking on the bank in the sun are rarely if ever concerned about birds wandering between them, standing on their back, or straying close to their jaws.