Dozens of crocodiles escape during floods in China
ViralPress / VideoElephant
Scientists have been left baffled by the behaviour of crocodiles who were seen escorting a dog to safety after it jumped in the water.
The odd incident occurred in the Savitri River in Maharashtra, India, and unfolded when a pack of feral dogs were seen chasing another lone dog. To escape the feral pack, the dog jumped into a crocodile-infested river.
But, rather than gobble the dog up as a snack, the crocodiles in the river appeared to use their snouts to nudge it to the side of the river to safety.
Images of the bizarre were published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa where they studied the behaviour of mugger crocodiles in the Savitri River.
“These crocodiles were actually touching the dog with their snouts and nudging it to move further for a safe ascent on the bank and eventually escape,” researchers wrote.
“The muggers were well within the striking range and could have easily devoured the dog, yet none of them attacked and instead chose to nudge it towards the bank, implying that the hunger drive was absent.”
Researchers have been left split over the reasons for this, with some arguing it is a sign that the crocodiles possess emotional intelligence and are displaying empathy.
But, according to Chris Murray, a biologist with Southeastern Louisiana University, there are several other reasons why the crocodiles may have let the dog live.
Murray told Insider that they may have been too full, or have had a bad experience in the past of trying to prey on dogs.
He said: “You see these cost-benefit analyses occur in nature all the time when it comes to the ecology of feeding.”
Murray also argued that coastal areas of India and Sri Lanka, where there are large populations of mugger crocodiles living near humans, have some of the highest frequencies of attacks on humans in the world. Therefore, he said: “I find the compassion of crocodilians highly unlikely.”