“Despite lacking any morphological adaptations for climbing trees, crocodilians are capable of entering arboreal environments within the limits of their locomotory abilities, and in some cases might spend considerable time high above ground. The factors driving such behaviour can only be postulated upon, but our observations support it is likely driven by two predominant conditions: 1) thermoregulation, and 2) surveillance of the habitat.” – Vladimir Dinets, Climbing behaviour in extant crocodilians
A recent study in Herpetology Notes has shown that, as it turns out, alligators and crocodiles can climb trees better than was previously thought. Until now, there haven’t been many studies about the tree-climbing abilities of crocs. People don’t typically picture these short-legged waddling animals scaling trees. There are a couple of proposed reasons for this behavior: thermoregulation and surveying the environment. As reptiles, thermoregulation is very important and in areas where there may not be much open space to bask, the only place to go is up. This can occur as high as the crown of the forest. Not surprisingly, smaller crocs can go higher than larger ones. Vladimir Dinets and a group of his researchers from the University of Tennessee conducted the study. Based on their findings, I’d say its a good idea to look up next time your hiking around crocodile or alligator territory!