Incredible: Instead of eating it, crocodiles save a dog trapped in a river

Incrível: em vez de comê-lo, crocodilos salvam cão preso em rio
Incredible: Instead of eating it, crocodiles save a dog trapped in a river (Utkarsha Chavan / Journal of Threatened Taxa)

Despite being known as large predators, crocodiles chose to save a dog that was in trouble in the river instead of attacking it. The reptiles gently nudged the little dog to safety on the riverbank with their snouts! This surprising decision may be considered a behavior of empathy between species, according to scientists.

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A report published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa details how a puppy, being chased by a pack of wild dogs, took refuge in the shallow waters of the Savitri River in the state of Maharashtra, India. However, in the river waters were mugger crocodiles, considered opportunistic predators, but surprisingly, instead of attacking, the reptiles carefully helped the dog reach safety on the riverbank, away from the other dogs.

This unusual gesture by the crocodiles intrigued scientists, as these crocodiles are generally seen as a significant threat to humans invading their natural habitats in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal.

While the report acknowledges that the analysis of this extraordinary situation is speculative, and the crocodiles could have simply lost interest in the dog as prey, the conclusion points to the possibility of a conscious behavior of empathy between species.

“Considering that the mugger crocodile was well within reach and could easily have devoured the dog, the fact that none of them attacked it and instead chose to guide it to the riverbank suggests the absence of a hunger instinct. We propose that this is an example of conscious behavior in mugger crocodiles, indicative of ‘emotional empathy’ between species, a little-studied phenomenon, although the ability of one species to experience emotional feelings for another deserves recognition.”

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