|GAVIAL (Gavialis gangeticus)
Also called the Gharial, this long-mouthed croc grows up to 4-5 m (12- 15 feet) in length. Its numerous teeth are razor-sharp and perfect for catching fish and frogs, but its jaws are not strong enough to wrestle with anything bigger.
Thought be sacred to the Hindu God “Vishnu”, this animal was protected in many parts of India. Despite their protection, their numbers have plummeted due to habitat destruction and poaching. In the 1970’s, they were thought to be on the brink of extinction. They are now considered critically endangered, with a count of only about 200 wild individuals in 2006, and are undergoing intensive conservation programs.
They live in the fresh waterways of India and Burma. They spend almost their whole lives in the water, coming onto land only to bask and lay eggs. Adaptations to an aquatic lifestyle include webbed feet and a powerful, paddle-like tail that makes them extremely fast swimmers.
The growth on the male gavial’s snout is used to make a sound to attract mates. Females will dig a hole in the sand for a nest and deposit 30 to 50 eggs inside, then cover it up. It takes eggs about 3 months to hatch, at which point the baby gavial’s will find their way to the water on their own.