Baby saltwater crocodiles display the same aggression as adults, a recent study suggests.
Baby crocs have been observed performing the same aggressive behaviours towards their clutch-mates as adult crocs do to each other. Early aggression is important to croc societies, as they prefer to establish dominance without actually fighting.
The hatchlings would strike each other with their heads, bite each other, twist their tails and puff themselves up.
Previous studies have only seen this aggression in crocodiles after a few months of age. But this new research suggests that these behaviours are integral to crocodile survival, as they are present essentially from hatching. It also probably explains why crocodile hatchlings raised in groups experience very different growth rates.
Future research may aim to determine if the most aggressive of these hatchlings end up as the alpha male crocs, and whether the subordinate young males grow up to become the nomadic, “other” males.