A Moment of Science

Alligator And Crocodile Tools

Reptiles often get a bad rap for their supposed dim wits. As it turns out, though, they're actually pretty darn clever.

An alligator lays in flowers and grass with mouth open wide.

Photo: Adventures of KM&G-Morris's

Don't be fooled by that grin. This one's a killer!

Humans are the animal kingdom’s master tool makers. But other animals make and use tools, animals like alligators and crocodiles.

Reptiles Use Tools?

It may sound strange, but crocs and alligators take advantage of birds’ nesting behavior. During the nesting season, nest-making sticks are at a premium. Birds even fight over the best sticks and twigs. Somehow sensing this, alligators and crocs in the U.S. and India are known to position sticks on their heads to act as lures.

When birds try to get them and come too close –SNAP! — the resourceful reptile gets a feathery meal.

Why Not Nest Elsewhere?

This pretty amazing, but you might wonder why birds would make nests in areas infested with crocodiles or alligators?

It could be because the reptiles help clear the area of snakes and other predators that feast on birds. It seems that for the success of a species in general, sometimes getting chomped by a crafty croc or gator is a worthwhile price to pay for laying eggs in a snake free zone.

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