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Terrific Teamwork: How Animals Help Each Other

Gila Zemmel

Summer’s the time for team games, team races, team sports, and all the double and triple fun that working and playing with a team brings along. But did you know that there are different animals that team up to help each other, too? Let’s find out more ...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Teaming Up

Whether it’s food, shelter, protection, transportation, or even the cleaning, every animal has needs, some of which it can’t take care of itself. Then what happens? That’s when teamwork comes into play. Hashem pairs up animals so that each can supply what the other needs. The relationship between these animals is called symbiosis, which means living together, from the ancient Greek words syn (together) and bios (life). Because each animal benefits the other, they are said to be mutually symbiotic.


Open Wide!

Sitting in a crocodile’s mouth doesn’t seem like the safest thing to do, but the plover bird doesn’t get frightened. He hops inside and pecks out the bits of food stuck on the croc’s teeth, which would otherwise cause decay. The crocodile has no way of cleaning its teeth by itself, so he patiently waits for his feathered dentist to finish the job. The plover gets a good meal, and the crocodile gets free dentistry.


All Eyes and Ears

If you’ve been to the zoo, you have probably seen zebras and ostriches living in the same enclosure. In the wild, ostriches often travel with zebra herds. Since both are vulnerable to attack, they need to be able to detect when a predator is nearby. But they each have a problem — the ostrich can’t smell or hear well, and the zebra has poor eyesight. By staying close together, each animal compensates for the other’s deficiency and helps it stay safe.


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