Animal Environment Nature News World News

‘The Crocodiles Bellowed at the Sky – Then Mated Like Mad’: the Sex Frenzy Sparked by Helicopters

There are 3,000 reptiles at the Koorana Crocodile Farm in Queensland, Australia. And all it takes to get them in the mood is some low-flying ChinooksWed 8 Nov 2023 15.50 GMT

Name: Crocodile mating.

Age: As old as crocodiles, presumably.

Appearance: As ABC news puts it, “The deed itself is not a particularly romantic procedure.”

Season: Mating times for crocodiles vary across the globe, but male arousal can often be triggered by a signal that the females’ optimal egg-laying time is approaching.

What sort of signal? Helicopters.

What do you mean, helicopters? Chinooks, specifically.

The long ones with the rotors at either end? Exactly – they’re like Viagra for crocodiles.

Why would that be? No one is certain, but the passing of low-flying Chinooks overhead routinely drives the 3,000 residents of Koorana Crocodile Farm in Queensland, Australia, into an all-out sexual frenzy. “The crocodiles start vocalising to each other,” said the farm’s owner, John Lever.

Then what happens? “All of the big males got up and roared and bellowed at the sky,” said Lever. “And then after the helicopters left they mated like mad.”

How long has this been going on? At least since the Singapore armed forces began holding joint military exercises in the area.

So what is it about helicopters that crocodiles find so arousing? It could be that the males are reacting to what they think is thunder, heralding the wet season, which is ideal for mating.

I suppose that’s plausible. Or it could be that the helicopter noise resembles the low-frequency territorial call of bull crocs, prompting all the males to get down to business asap.

That also makes a certain amount of sense. It’s even possible that the choppers create a temporary drop in barometric pressure that fools the crocs into thinking a storm is coming.

However it works, it sounds like it really works. Indeed.

Do we know of any other animals that get excited by patrolling aircraft? No, but human-made noise can affect animal mating in many ways.

Give me an example of a sound that spoils the mood. Studies have shown that traffic noise interferes with a female Mediterranean field cricket’s ability to distinguish a superior male courtship song from a less good one.

I guess we’ve all made bad choices on that front. Scientists have also investigated whether the sound of new year’s fireworks disrupts the breeding habits of sea lions in Chile.

Have they tried helicopters on them? Because I’ve heard that can help. More study is certainly needed.

Do say: “I’m like a crocodile, baby – I get turned on by a big chopper.”

Don’t say: “Thank you, but can this not wait until we’ve landed safely?”

Source : The Guardian