Gharial

ANIMAL:
Gharial Gavialis gangeticus

Type of Animal:
Crocodilian

Habitat:
Clear fast-flowing freshwater rivers w/ deep pools, sandbanks/sandbars, river bends, floodplains, prefers calmer areas of habitat, rock outcrops

Location(s):
Once found in all river systems of N Indian subcontinent from Indus River in Pakistan to Irrawaddy River in Burma. Extinct in Bhutan & Burma. Still found in pockets of India, Pakistan, Nepal, & Bangladesh.

Appearance:
Olive-colored to dark gray to almost black w/ adults darker than juveniles, young have dark brown cross bands/speckles, long narrow snout, males have hollow bulbous nasal protuberance at tip of snout called “ghara” due to resemblance of earthen pot of same name, most slender snout of any crocodilian, yellowish-white belly

Food/Diet:
Fish, insects, insect larvae, crustaceans, frogs, small softshell turtles, waterbirds
 
Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, & breeding centers. Reintroductions in parts of range.

Lifestyle:
Groups of 3-30 animals, led by dominant male. Some groups are harems of a male & multiple females. Other groups have dominant male & his harem as well as some subordinate males. Some groups have a few breeding males & as many as 40 females. Same-sex groups also occur. Solitary individuals sometimes seen as well. Subadults & juveniles form their own groups. 

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Bull
Female: Cow
Young: Hatchling
Group: Float/Bask
 
Weight:
Male: 550-1,000 lbs
Female: 350-400 lbs
Young: 12 lbs

Gestation:
3 months 

Life Span:
40-60 years

Body Length:
Male: 9.10-20 ft
Female: 8.6-14.9 ft
Young: 2.5-3.8 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 4.55-10 ft
Female: 4.3-7.45 ft
Young: 1.25-1.9 ft

Main predators of adults are tigers & leopards. Young preyed on by snakes, birds, pigs, mongooses, monitor lizards, jackals, rats, turtles, & predatory fish. Mugger crocs will take smaller juveniles & even sub-adults. Large pythons will take juveniles.
 
Highly endangered due to water pollution, dam construction, overfishing (resulting in loss of main prey), sand mining, egg collection, hunting of males for ghara, hunting for meat/skin/trophies/medicinal trade, accidental catching in fishing nets, agriculture, livestock overgrazing of nearby land, & siltation.
 
Most aquatic of all crocodilians, only leaving water to bask & nest.
 
Also called gavial, fish-eating crocodile, Indian Gharial, & Indian Gavial.
 
They don’t chew prey but rather swallow it whole.
 
Sexually mature at around 10 years old.
 
When they move across land, they push bodies forward using ground due to weak leg muscles.
 
Females usually lay around 20-50 eggs per clutch.
 
They’re a rather shy & docile species, w/ almost all attacks being a protective mom.
 
Male’s use ghara on snout to emit buzzing noises, possibly as method to attract females.

Fun Fact(s):
They’ll swallow rocks & sometimes human jewelry from dead people in river to digest real food.
 
Many Hindus regard these animals as vehicle of river deity Ganga.
 
Due to their fragile thin jaws, they’re incapable of taking very large prey.

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