Why Do Turtles Ride on Crocodiles?

By Interfase – Own work, Public Domain, Link

If you spend some time looking at turtles on the internet (why wouldn’t you?), you may have come across pictures and videos of turtles riding on the backs of crocodiles. It may lead you to wonder if these animals really do get along so well. Don’t the crocs ever turn around and eat the turtles? Or is there some sort of agreement between the two?

Jungle Pete

Turtles are ectothermic, and need to get out of the water and into the sun to get warm. The crocodiles serve as sun-bathing a platform.


This may not be as uncommon as the viral photos tend to make it seem. Radiolab has a great episode on this called “Goat on a Cow.” The idea is that even if something isn’t actually strange, we remember things we don’t see very often. For example, when goats and cows occupy the same space, it isn’t uncommon to see goats on top of cows.

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So this actually may be more common than the casual observer might think.

Alligators possess extremely powerful jaws, able to bite with a shell-crushing force of more than 2000 lbs of pressure per square inch.

It’s not unusual for crocodiles and alligators to eat turtles. It’s not their number one choice on the menu but when opportunity calls they will eat them.

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However, turtles are often able to escape, usually thanks to the shape of their shell.

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So while some alligators and crocodiles will tolerate turtles when they aren’t hungry, this relationship doesn’t always work out well for the turtles, as you can see in the video below:

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