Animal

What Animal Cleans The Inside Of An Crocodile’s Mouth?

The crocodile has no bird friend. You’re thinking of the crocodile, whose pal the plover helps keep the smile of a crocodile clean. The plovers aren’t sᴜɪᴄɪᴅal. The truth is, the relationship between the crocodile bird and the crocodile is symbiotic; each getting a benefit from being strange bedfellows.

EGYPTIAN PLOVER

The Egyptian Plover is a wader, also called Crocodile Bird for its symbiotic relationship with crocodiles. They are localised residents in tropical sub-Saharan Africa. According to a story dating to Herodotus, the plovers fly into crocodiles’ mouths so as to feed on bits of ᴅᴇᴄᴀʏɪɴɢ meat that are lodged between the crocodiles’ teeth. The crocodile bird, despite the fact that it acts like a dental hygienist, is merely enjoying a good meal. After the crocodile eats a large animal, such as an entire cow, he suns himself on the banks of the river with his mouth open. Crocs swallow their prey whole, but bits of meat gets stuck between their teeth anyway, and they can’t very well floss.

So why do these little plovers do it?

Why so glib about their health and safety? The crocodile bird, despite the fact that it acts like a dental hygienist, is merely enjoying a good meal. After the crocodile eats a large animal, such as an entire cow, he suns himself on the banks of the river with his mouth open. Crocs swallow their prey whole, but bits of meat gets stuck between their teeth anyway, and they can’t very well floss.

Enter the Plover

Crocodiles cannot sweat through their skin like humans can, or through their paws like dogs. To dissipate heat, they bask on the banks with their mouths open. The plover comes along and, using his sharp little beak like a toothpick, removes the bits of meat from between the crocodile’s teeth. This feeds the plover and removes parasites from the croc’s mouth.

Plover Panic

The plover serves as a security alarm system for the crocodile. If, while in the croc’s mouth, the plover senses ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀ from an oncoming animal, she screams and flies away. This behavior alerts the crocodile to the imminent ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀ, so he can slide into the water and out of ʜᴀʀᴍ’s way as well. In this way, the plover keeps her source of free food safe for future use — a service the croc, no doubt, appreciates regardless of the motive.

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