Chito and Pocho, frolicking in the water

What's going on in these pictures?


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Readers of the Sun article might not get its title, "So Snappy Together". We have a joke in English that depends on a pun: "snappy" means both "quick" and "tending to bite". The joke is about a sandwich shop that advertises "any sandwich you want", and a customer who says "bring me an alligator sandwich, and make it snappy!". Therefore we associate this word "snappy" strongly with crocodilians. Also, we have an iconic song "So happy together" (recorded originally by The Turtles in 1967).

I wonder if he still feeds it. I would.

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 10 Sep 2009 #permalink

It's that Costa Rican man who saved the crocodile's life after it had been shot, and the crocodile now recognizes him and lets him swim with him and even comes when he is called.

I might add that somewhere in the Pacific coast of Mexico (if Im not mistaken), another man has established a similar bond with another American crocodile; he feeds him since it was very young and now the croc comes when he is called by his name... although I dont know if the guy has ever tried to swim with the animal. I wouldn´t :D Scientists often say that American crocs are "not as aggressive" as Nile or Saltwaters, but they are still dangerous; in my country, several people are killed by crocs every year, often without provocation. (Although most of the time, the people is to be blamed for not reading the "danger" signs and going to swim anyway). They also grow to be incredibly big; I was in a lake inhabited by crocodiles and saw some humongous skulls being kept by the game wardens. The dominant male was said to be 6.5 meters long.

Sorry bout the long post...

Oh yeah, the hippo and the tortoise. Their relationship was not as harmless as it might seem: I heard that the hippo was damaging the tortoise by sucking on its shell and limbs, and the hippos was suffering from skin damage by spending too much time away from water.

Thanks to all for thoughts and comments, much appreciated.

Excellent story. I don't want to come over all soft and nanny-state-esque but I do worry for the croc's future. It doesn't say how old he is but I would imagine that he will outlive Chito (who is 52) by some time and then what will happen? I wonder how much of Pocho's diet is made up of handfeeding and whether it is possible for crocodiles to actually forget how to hunt anyway? Certainly you'd assume his non-fear of humans is going to get him into trouble if Chito departs. Still you've got to hand it to Chito that's some effort to help a reptile.

By RStretton (not verified) on 10 Sep 2009 #permalink

"I don't want to come over all soft and nanny-state-esque"
Actually you just did.

By thylacine (not verified) on 10 Sep 2009 #permalink

That must be an amazing sight! Coolest thing I've seen today, but that happens a lot with what I see here...

By Sebastian Marquez (not verified) on 10 Sep 2009 #permalink

Well, I suppose crocodiles only kill you when they're hungry.

(Unlike hippos, famously, who'll kill you for trespassing.)

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 10 Sep 2009 #permalink

This is one of the most touching stories I've come across in a long time. I was nearly brouight to tears reading that Sun article*. Pocho seems to somehow know who saved his life, and he is returning the favor by not biting Chito's head off. I tell you, non-avian reptiles are smarter than we give them credit for. (And if you need more proof than this story, there's the recently recycled Version 1 Tet Zoo article "Dinosaurs Come Out to Play").

*Stupendously sappy, I know.

By M. O. Erickson (not verified) on 10 Sep 2009 #permalink

"I don't want to come over all soft and nanny-state-esque"

"Actually you just did."

Oh, naw he (she?) didn't. To really come across as all soft and nanny-statist, RStretton would have to demand a government program to take care of and feed indigent/orphaned crocodiles when the humans upon whom they've become dependent die or neglect their responsibilities. We'd call it the program Assistance for 'Bandoned Crocodile Dependents (ABCD).

By Stevo Darkly (not verified) on 10 Sep 2009 #permalink

Well, as long as he's not doing anything that is proven dangerous, like driving in rush hour traffic on a friday evening.

I still like my guess better, since I want the skeleton. I personally wouldn't recommend making a routine of getting so close. Since the crocodile is still an animal, it may decide out of the blue to behave differently for no other reason than it felt like it. Then Chito will have a very suprising and briefly exciting day.

Having once stroked a young gator's belly myself years ago, kitchy-kitchy-koo was the first thing that came to Mind.. Close enough for horseshoes..? :grin:

I *love* the images..

American crocodiles are far less aggressive than other species. I don't know of anyone in the US who has been attacked by one-- ever.

However, that is very big American crocodile, and he's playing with fire. I hope he's heard of Timothy Treadwell.

Apparently crocodiles, like parakeets, are warm and cuddly. Ergo, via phylogenetic bracketing, we can deduce tyrannosaurs were warm and cuddly.

Perhaps the creators of "Barney" had it right?

American crocodiles are far less aggressive than other species. I don't know of anyone in the US who has been attacked by one-- ever.

That could just be because there are almost no American crocodiles (left) in the USAâ¦

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 11 Sep 2009 #permalink

There are about 500 to 1,000 left in the US.

They probably never had a vast range in the United States. However, they are making a comeback.

For some reason, this species tends to avoid people. I've only seen them in zoos and reptile parks.

Ironically, one of the best places to find this species is at a nuclear power plant:

I agree with johannes and David. I have friends in US who were surprised when I told them there were still a few crocodiles living in Florida; they thought there were only alligators...
But in Mexico and many central American countries, crocodiles are relatively abundant and a lot of people lives around their rivers. In the city of Tampico, the crocodiles live practically in the city; Steve Irwin was there once, and said that the crocs (American) were surprisingly docile, but even so, recently some people have been eaten there... mainly drunk people who went to close, tho.

Because I have seen wild American crocodiles up close, I can testify that they are rather ill tempered as well, but then again, I have never been in front of a saltie or a Nile croc in the wild...


Here is more on the temperament of American crocodiles.

I also found that one of the reasons why they couldn't colonize inland Florida, because they cannot compete with American alligators, which are more aggressive and have definite records of killing people in the United States (well, that's the only place where they live).

There have been attacks in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, though-- although far fewer than one would expect.

Oh, and here's a rube who thinks that an American croc is a "saltwater crocodile" (because it's found in saltwater!).

Still... what an amazing sight.

It would seem it likes its underbelly rubbed, perhaps why it's so docile in the water.

Hard to wrap your brain around the idea of a domesticated crocodile, though... I wonder if it wags it's tail when it's feeding time.

"Fetch Pocho!"... Wait!.. The ball!! Not Skippy!"
"Um, honey... better take Jr. to the pet store for a new puppy..."

By CanWeKeepHim (not verified) on 21 Sep 2009 #permalink

Pocho, a 17ft, 980lb crocodile, is estimated to be around 50 - almost the same age as his owner.

Chito made friends with the croc after finding him with a gunshot wound on the banks of the Central American state's Parismina river 20 years ago.

He had been shot in the left eye by a cattle farmer and was close to death.

He says: "When I found Pocho in the river he was dying, so I brought him into my house. He was very skinny, weighing only around 150lb. I gave him chicken and fish and medicine for six months to help him recover.

"I stayed by Pocho's side while he was ill, sleeping next to him at night. I just wanted him to feel that somebody loved him, that not all humans are bad.

He says: "After a decade I started to work with him. At first it was slow, slow. I played with him a bit, slowly doing more.

"Then I found out that when I called his name he would come over to me."

"He's my friend, I don't want to treat him like a slave or exploit him."

By CanWeKeepHim (not verified) on 21 Sep 2009 #permalink

A rather misleading article .... That is not a crocodile! It's an alligator and & their temperament is totally different to that of a crock.

To everybody who is reading this ... never ever get close to a crock. They are a primitive animal that doesnât no fear and isn't fussy what it eats.

If it has just eaten it will still take you and store your body submerged under a log to eat 3 days later.

I repeat ... never mess with a crocodile!

Rob Fou, I recommend you read the post before commenting on it.

Did you really believe we can't tell a crocodile from an alligator by looking at it? Be ashamed.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 10 Oct 2009 #permalink

Better hope that Croc doesn't devolop Alzheimers over the years o.O