From pets and wolves; to to crocodiles and fish; these are 15 INCREDIBLE Mutual Animal Relationships !
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#4 Humans and intestinal bacteria -- Normal Flora is a term used to describe a mixture of organisms found at any anatomical site. In the human body, bacteria comprise the most numerous microbial components of normal flora. Most activities of normal flora are beneficial to the host, and that’s the case in the relationship between humans and certain bacteria found in the intestines. Sometimes referred to as gut flora, it contains the largest numbers of bacteria compared to other parts of the body. Varieties of gut flora can serve to stimulate development and activity in the immune system, and protect against infections spread by pathogenic microbes in addition to certain digestive and nutritional benefits. In return, the gut flora receives protection, a means of transport, and a steady supply of nutrients. Seems like everyone wins in that scenario … call it a gut feeling.
#3 Crocs & Plovers -- If you see a crocodile open its mouth and a bird flies right in there, you must figure the bird has a death wish. But the Plover, a small wading bird, is actually on a mission. Like a patient in the dentist’s chair, the croc stays perfectly still as the picks out meat from the bigger animal’s mouth. The process serves to not only clean the croc’s teeth but also prevents infection. And the Plover scores a meal from the whole deal … albeit kind of a scary one. Did you know the Plover is also called ‘The Crocodile Bird’? Now you know why!
#2 Grey Wolves and Striped Hyenas
Wolves are known to be social animals, but will rarely accept outside species into their packs. Striped hyenas are noted for their often solitary nature when it comes to hunting. So when evidence was found indicating these two species had formed an unlikely alliance surprised researchers in the Middle East. Experts initially found hyena and wolf tracks mixed together in Israel’s Negev desert, and later witnessed the two species traveling in a single pack, with the hyenas in the middle. The alliance may have been formed in response to the animals harsh environment, where food is extremely scarce. Wolves are faster, more agile and better hunters in packs than hyenas. While hyenas have a keener sense of smell, and break larger bones and break through tin cans found in garbage. Experts say interspecies cooperative hunting is rare … but the flexible behavior can occur should each species survival be at stake.
So we’ve focused on symbiotic relationships that are mutually beneficial to both species involves. But like we said, there are two other forms of symbiosis, so we thought we’d give you an example of each before getting to our number one relationship.
A Commensalism relationship involves our previously mentioned birds, the egrets (ee-grits). But this species is known as the Cattle Egret because they forage in the fields with cattle and other livestock. Those animals stir up insects that the birds eat. That’s a big benefit to the egrets, but provides no advantage to the livestock.
You’re likely already familiar with this Parasitic relationship -- it occurs between mosquitoes and humans. The insects feed off of our blood to survive and to help care for their eggs. In return, the mosquito can transmit diseases like malaria or yellow fever to us. While the mosquito benefits from the relationship, we humans can pay a steep price for be such accommodating hosts. Now on to
#1 Gators and Wading Birds
We told you about the special relationship between crocodiles and plovers … not to be outdone, alligators have formed their own alliance with some birds. Experts say that the gators have worked out an arrangement with certain birds that’s a win-win for both animals. As a way to keep their eggs from being preyed upon by mammals like possums, certain species of wading birds will build their nests above waters inhabited by alligators. And while the reptiles offer a measure of protection for the birds, the reptiles gain an advantage as well. Predators entering their territory seeking the birds nests instead become prey for the gators! Scientists from the University of Florida conducted research in the Everglades and found that egrets and herons comprised the two bird families that were most likely to build nests over the alligators. It turned out that the gators with nests over their heads were in much better physical shape than those without a nest nearby. That’s the benefit of getting such easy meals in exchange for serving as the birds bodyguards. In fact, experts say it’s possible the gators might have territorial battles with each other over areas that contain nesting bird colonies!