Crocodile Teeth


In the well-known children’s book ‘The Selfish Crocodile’ the crocodile scares away all of the creatures from the watering hole, declaring that it is his and his alone. One day the crocodile can be heard moaning in agony and a brave mouse speaks to the crocodile and finds out that he has a tooth ache. The mouse proceeds to enter the crocodiles mouth with no thought to his own safety and removes the tooth. The crocodile then gives the tooth to the mouse as a gift.

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The crocodile should probably have searched for a Cosmetic dentist Leicester like, or wherever he was from, rather than allowing a mouse to just pull his tooth out he did learn a valuable lesson and from then on he allowed all the animals to come and drink from the watering hole.

Also, the story is not so far away from the truth. Crocodiles in the wild have also found an unlikely ally in helping them to keep their teeth clean.

Crocodiles have 24 razor sharp teeth in their large jaws and although their teeth are more than capable of ripping apart meat and their power jaws of crunching through bones, Crocodiles actually swallow their food whole. Just the thought of that gives this writer indigestion! When they swallow their food tiny bites of flesh get stuck between their teeth. If this were to remain it could lead to nasty infections in the teeth and gums (mush like our poor friend, the Selfish Crocodile).

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Crocodiles have formed an alliance (a ‘I will not eat you alliance’) with Egyptian Plover Birds. The Crocodiles of the Nile will often sit with their jaws wide open. It is at this point that the Plover bird will walk into the crocodile’s mouth and peak away the bits of flesh that are stuck between its teeth. This symbiotic relationship enables the bird to get a good meal and the crocodile to stave off any nasty infections. A crocodile can grow new teeth throughout its life. Once a tooth falls out another one will grow in its place. This means that there is a never-ending amount of work for the Plover bird.

People have wondered how the crocodiles learnt not to eat the bird and many believe that it has just been a product of evolution. That the crocodiles, who were probably too lazy and enjoying basking in the sun, that allowed the birds to peck away at the food were healthier than their bird eating counterparts and so over time the relationship was established with less blood shed on the birds part.

Written by Alex

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