Alligators just want to have fun- Florida images may show predators at play
With one sizable difference, they could be scenes of everyday recreation in the sunshine state of Florida- a tourist playing with a football, another eagerly chasing a remote control boat round a lake.
But the remarkable images posted to social media over the past week feature alligators, not humans – seeming to confirm a Tennessee university study that said crocodilians like to have fun too.
A picture posted to the Alligators of Florida Facebook page by Sandra Raymon Harrison showed an alligator in south the Big Cypress preserve with a football in its jaws. How the reptile came across the ball, and whether it had any playmates, was not specified.
Commentators worried that the alligator had the ball stuck in its mouth were assured by experts who pointed out the massive force of the creature’s bite could pop the ball in a heartbeat.
The second playful gator was captured in a short video clip posted to the website of Jacksonville’s ActionNewsJax TV, swimming in hot pursuit of a remote-controlled boat.
The images were shot by a producer from the station who filmed a neighbor launching the vessel and noticed the alligator swimming along in pursuit. The animated alligator changes speed and direction several times as the boat zips before it.
Both episodes appear to bear out the research of University of Tennessee Knoxville animal behavior expert Vladimir Dinets, whose 2015 study, Play Behaviour in Crocodilians, noted such behavior was not uncommon.
‘Social play by crocodilians is almost never reported but this doesn’t mean that it is particularly rare,’ Dinets wrote, after spending more than 3,000 hours observing crocodilians in the wild and captivity.
He witnessed alligators at play with river otters in Big Cypress and detailed the story of a crocodile in Costa Rica that bonded with its rescuer.
‘Play behavior included swimming together, rushing at [him] with an open mouth in mock charges, sneaking on him from behind as if to startle him, and accepting being caressed, hugged, rotated in the water and kissed on the snout,’ he wrote.
According to a Science Daily report accompanying the study, the results ‘show[ed] a softer side of the intimidating creatures – one that includes romping around with river otters and people’.
A third recent episode of Florida alligators potentially at play, however, had to be discounted. A video posted to Facebook of an apparently friendly 20ft alligator named Grandpappy leading a 6ft reptile across a Lakeland golf course ended with the smaller of the two being eaten.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.theguardian.com feed.)
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