Egyptian plover nile crocodile symbiotic relationship

Plover Crocodile Stock Photos & Plover Crocodile Stock Images - Alamy

egyptian plover nile crocodile symbiotic relationship

The Egyptian plover (Pluvianus aegyptius), also known as the crocodile bird, is a wader, the doubtfully associated with the "trochilus" bird mentioned in a supposed cleaning symbiosis with the Nile crocodile. The bird is sometimes referred to as the crocodile bird for its alleged symbiotic relationship with crocodiles. This tiny bird is called the Egyptian Plover bird. Nile crocodiles are the second largest in the world and are so ferocious that they can walk to areas much far. Symbiotic Relationship A symbiotic relationship is when two In a way, the crocodile bird (Egyptian plover) is the Nile crocodile's dental.

So, the Plover bird gets her food and the crocodile gets his mouth cleaned. In this way, both are able to help each other!

Egyptian plover

Let us get to know a little bit more about these creatures: A crocodile is a carnivore which means it eats all kinds of animals that live in the water and even cattle. They have strong jaws. They do not chew their food, just swallow the entire prey into their stomach where it is broken down.

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.

egyptian plover nile crocodile symbiotic relationship

They have powerful jaw muscles and can keep their mouth open for a long time. Let us look at the Plover Bird closely. 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.

egyptian plover nile crocodile symbiotic relationship

They greet each other regularly! They get into its mouth boldly, eat the food and fly away. 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. 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?

Symbiosis: Egyptian Plover and Nile Crocodile by Emily Kimpel on Prezi

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.

Birds are opportunists too, and they will feed on flies and other insects on and around crocodiles. It may even appear that they are removing flies from the crocodile's jaws on occasion.

Open Wide

But extrapolating this into a mutual relationship between crocodile and bird is going a bit far. Crocodiles hardly benefit from the presence of the birds, and yet they tolerate their presence because it's just not worth chasing them.

Crocodile and the Plover Bird

Crocodiles aren't always in the mood for feeding, and they're smart enough to let difficult to catch prey like alert birds pass them by. So if you ask me, the crocodile bird exists in name only. There is no mutual relationship between them, as none has ever been seriously documented, no advantage would be gained by the crocodile, and the hypothesis just doesn't add up. Of course, I like to think that I'll reconsider anything based on actual evidence.