Crocodiles will do just about anything to get home. A few years ago, three crocodiles were air-lifted hundreds of miles away from their habitat, and shocked everyone when they returned—a massive feat, considering crocs walk at a nail-biting speed of 10 miles per week.
Now that urban life is basically sitting on prime crocodile territory in Miami and the Florida Keys, the gator state is facing a problem: The current method of removing a crocodile from someone’s backyard canal and releasing it into the wild just isn’t enough, since they keep coming back. So the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions is experimenting with new methods of croc-removal…such as strapping magnets to each side of a crocodile’s head.
The logic is that the magnets will disorient the animal so much that it will stay lost in the wild. But will it really work?
In theory, yes, since crocodiles rely on the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate. However, no one really knows how crocodiles have such uncanny navigational skills. It’s possible that in addition to magnetic fields, they use the position of the Sun, their sight, and/or their sense of smell to find their way.
A team of researchers at the Crocodile Museum in Mexico have successfully relocated 20 reptiles since 2004 using the “magnets method.” With this in mind, the Florida crocodile hunters (or the FFWCC folks) decided to try it too.
So far, the researchers have only magnetized two crocodiles and have tracked their movements. Ready for the bad news? One crocodile died after a car ran it over. Fortunately though, the other one is still roaming around somewhere —hopefully not in the center of I-95.
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