Crocodiles and hippos don't always get along, but there's no sign of animosity when this youngster takes an interest in one of the large reptiles as it basks on a sandbank in Zimbabwe.

Filmed by Karen Paolillo from the non-profit conservation organisation the Turgwe Hippo Trust, the video shows a young hippo sauntering over to the crocodile and zeroing in on its tail. While the reptile doesn't seem particularly pleased by the attention, it doesn't react aggressively either.

For Paolillo, who's been working since the 1990s to safeguard a group of hippos in an area once covered by the (now dry) Turgwe River, the interaction is not unusual. "Often hippos groom crocodiles, licking their tails and hindquarter areas. They lie close together without any hassle on the sandbanks ... I believe they actually benefit from each other," she says.

Crocodiles are certainly big and powerful enough to pose a serious threat to young hippos, and we've seen our share of fierce clashes involving the two species (especially when young calves are about), but there's also a lot about hippo-croc relations that we don't fully understand. They're often seen sharing the same riverbanks and happily ignoring each other, but unusual sightings of crocodiles walking across hippos’ backs, and of hippos nibbling on crocodile tails, keep surfacing:

For Paolillo, who's also a qualified field guide and has spent countless hours observing the local pod, the sandbank encounter was just a bit hippo playtime. "[He] was most definitely playing. He does that often with crocs, it's a game," she says.

While we don't actually know what's really going on here (scientists have yet to explain these incidents of unusual tail-nibbling behaviour), watching the youngster trying to use a crocodile as his personal chew toy is still pretty entertaining.

Top header image: Cloudtail, Flickr