No matter what family or genus, Crocodilians are frequently living in bacteria-infested habitats and engaging in violent behaviors. Many species are territorial and will engage in bloody battles for their dominance and area. They could also get violent during predator-prey interactions too. Despite these common occurrences, Crocodilians rarely die from fatal infections by their wounds!
But how can a reptile that lives in swampy, dirty waters, be so resistant to any infections? Scientists have been taking on this question and multiple scholarly research projects have focused on this fact.
In a recent news story, a 2019 study found that (in the lab,) crocodile blood was 100 percent successful in killing 23 bacteria strains, some of which are responsible for fatal infections. This included samples from the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis).
Scientists used “crocodile serum” against 23 different bacteria strains and it was effective killing 23/23. This was compared to the “human serum” that only killed 8/23. It was also found that when crocodile blood was introduced to HIV infected cells, it was able to manipulate and stop the proper lifecycle of HIV.
Although it was not able to prevent HIV from infecting healthy cells, it was able to stop the vital protein making process that goes along with changing the infected host’s DNA. This research can be useful for the conservation of Crocodilians because it shows the need to preserve and learn more about these reptiles.
Further understanding Crocodilians can lead to more captive conservation programs for the many endangered species within this group. Research on Crocodilian blood has also been useful for further understanding HIV, and has the potential to offer life saving drugs for deadly diseases in humans.
With more awareness for Crocodilians, including understanding their place in human medicine, we can better preserve them through monitored captive programs!
This article was first published by reptile magazine