How do animals help each other?

Animal Partners

Hungry crocodiles usually try to eat birds that come near them. But one kind of bird can walk among crocodiles safely. In fact, this bird can lay its eggs in crocodile nests!

A bird called the water dikkop eats insects that disturb crocodiles. The bird gets an easy meal and the crocodile becomes more comfortable. So the birds are really helping the crocodiles. Maybe that’s why the crocodiles don’t harm them.

Little fish called wrasses help many other bigger fish. Tiny worms often fasten themselves to a fish and make sores on its body. When this happens, the fish goes to a coral reef where a wrasse lives. The little wrasse hunts all over the fish’s body and eats the worms.

A European fish called a bitterling teams up with certain freshwater clams. The female bitterling lays her eggs in the clam. When the baby fish leave the shell, clam larvae are buried in their skin. After the clam larvae have grown a bit, they leave the fish and sink to the bottom of the pond or river. The clam provides a safe place for the fish to lay its eggs, and the fish helps spread baby clams along the pond bottom.

The water dikkop, the wrasse, and the bitterling all get something from the animals they help. Some get food as a reward for getting rid of annoying pests. Others help each other reproduce.