Animal interactions often remind us how complex and intelligent they actually are. While interactions within the same species are relatively easy to understand, it’s the relationships between different species that often throws up multiple questions. Take the goat and the tiger who lived harmoniously together for a while in a safari park in Russia. Or the polar bears who befriended a pack of sled dogs in Canada.
When a member of the public visited Bronx Zoo in New York City, they saw a similarly unusual but charming sight. A turtle was riding on the back of a Gharial crocodile as it swam throughout the tank. The video has since gone viral online and has been making the rounds on various TV shows.
The large turtle makes its way onto the crocodile’s back, settling itself and holding on for the ride. The crocodile quickly swims forward, using its powerful tail, seemingly wanting to shake the turtle off. But the shelled creature holds on as long as he can, until the crocodile is finally able to lose him.
Turtle and crocs
Surprisingly, this is not the first time a turtle has been spotted piggybacking on a crocodile. Many tourists, scientists and onlookers have spotted the critters catching a ride. In 2013, a tourist took this photo of a turtle hitching a ride on a freshwater crocodile on the Barron River near Cairns, Australia.
It has raised the question about why so many turtles choose to stand on crocodiles, given that they are considered prey. As reptiles, both species climb up onto river banks or on rocks to warm their bodies in the sun. For turtles, a crocodile could be considered a safe and sturdy base to warm up on. Likewise, if there is enough prey in the river, a crocodile is unlikely to attack a turtle in this resting state. Especially if the turtle is thought too small to waste its energy on.
For the turtle in the video, it looks unlikely that he was after some sun. So perhaps he was practising his hold, or better yet just fancied a bit of fun.