Consumption of large mammals by Crocodylus moreletii: field observations of necrophagy and interspecific kleptoparasitism

Platt, Steven G. and Rainwater, Thomas R. and Snider, Scott and Garel, Anthony and Anderson, Todd A. and McMurry, Scott T. (2007) Consumption of large mammals by Crocodylus moreletii: field observations of necrophagy and interspecific kleptoparasitism. Southwestern Naturalist, 52 (2). pp. 310-317. ISSN 0038-4909

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    The consumption of large >15 kg) mammals by Morelet’s crocodile Crocodylus moreletii) is poorly documented. We present field observations of necrophagy and interspecific kleptoparasitism defined as the stealing of food from an individual by another individual) involving the consumption of domestic cattle Bos taurus) and Baird’s tapir Tapirus bairdii) carcasses, respectively, by Morelet’s crocodile in Belize. Our single observation of kleptoparasitism occurred when an adult crocodile fed upon and attempted to hijack a tapir killed by a jaguar Panthera onca). Crocodiles gained access to the interior of carcasses by tearing through the abdominal wall tapir) or expanding an opening made by feeding vultures cattle); feeding then progressed to the limbs, neck, and head. Crocodiles quickly located and congregated at cattle carcasses, possibly attracted by large flocks of feeding vultures. Feeding aggregations were composed solely of adult crocodiles; juveniles and subadults were probably excluded by the presence of larger, dominant individuals. Crocodiles required 72 to 96 h to consume cattle carcasses. While our observation of kleptoparasitism is among the few yet reported for any crocodilian, we speculate that this foraging strategy is more widespread and has likely been overlooked by previous investigators, owing to the difficulty of observing feeding behavior in the wild. Collectively our observations suggest that large mammals represent an important, albeit rare and hitherto overlooked, food resource for adult C. moreletii in Belize.

    Item Type: Peer-reviewed Journal Article
    Related URLs:
      Publisher: Southwestern Association of Naturalists
      Keywords: mammals, Crocodylus moreletii,observations, crocodile
      Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AG) Mammals > (AGB) Carnivores
      (A) Biodiversity > (AG) Mammals > (AGC) Herbivores
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3D) Other or Unspecified
      Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2010 06:00
      Last Modified: 09 Jun 2014 14:16

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