An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
Crocodiles are generally seen as unmistakably carnivorous. New research, however, demonstrates that these animals also quite regularly eat fruit. And a crocodile eats fruit not only because its prey does, but also as a conscious choice.
The bulk of a crocodile’s diet consists of mammals, birds and fish. However, for 13 crocodile species (of the 18 investigated), fruit is a regular constituent of that diet. A portion of the fruit a crocodile consumes comes with its prey, whose stomach contents are often found to contain fruit. In addition, these crocodiles also eat fruit, such as berries, deliberately. The research results are surprising, as the assumption until now has been that the crocodile, a true carnivore, was not able to digest plants and fruits. The investigators now suspect that the animals are in fact able to benefit from the nutrients present in the fruit.
Yet another fact makes the eating habits of the crocodile interesting. Fruit contains seeds or pits, and when a crocodile eats these, the seeds can be distributed over a great distance. Whether those seeds can still sprout isn’t yet clear. As the effects on seeds of a stay in a crocodile stomach are still unknown, more research is necessary.