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June 20, 2018  |  Login

Gavialis gangeticus

What Are They Like?

Reminiscent of a Dr. Suess character, the gharial is one of the longest of the crocodile species. Gharials can grow to up to 23 feet (7 meters) in length, and weigh up to 2,200 pounds (998 kilograms). The most striking feature of the gharial is its extremely narrow snout, which is lined with several sharp interlocking teeth. The slim design of the snout allows it to easily catch quick moving prey underwater. Gharials are well adapted for aquatic life, and are equipped with broad webbed feet and laterally flattened tails that help them swim.

Where Do They Live?

Gharials can only be found in a few remote areas of India and Nepal. They inhabit deep, fast-moving rivers and prefer areas with sandbanks.

Did You Know?
The gharial has between 106-110 teeth in its elongated snout.

How Are Babies Made?

The mating period lasts from December to January, and nesting occurs from March to May. During nesting season, female gharials will dig a hole in the sandbanks and deposit up to 60 eggs. The eggs will hatch after 83 - 94 days.

What Do They Eat?

Gharials mainly eat fish, but are known to feed on frogs, crabs, birds and shrimp.

Did You Know?
Gharials have the largest eggs of any crocodilian species. Males have a bulbous growth at the end of their snouts that is used to make bubbles and sounds to attract females during courtship.

What Do They Do?

The gharial is the most aquatic of all crocodiles and only leaves the water to bask in the sun or lay eggs. Although they are extremely agile in the water, they are awkward on land due to their short, weak legs.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the Gharial as "critically endangered." The biggest threat is habitat loss due to human encroachment. The damming and diversion of rivers for agricultural purposes has caused seasonal riverbeds to dry up, which has severely disrupted their natural habitat. Gharials face additional threats such as illegal poaching for body parts, and water pollution, which has negatively affected their health and food sources.

What's Being Done?

In the 1970s, the gharial was perched perilously on the brink of extinction. The Indian government responded by offering full protection. Nine captive breeding and ranching programs have been established in India and Nepal. These programs are responsible for the release of more than 3,000 gharials back into their natural habitats. So far in India, the number of gharials in the wild has recovered to 1,500. Currently, the Gharial Conservation Alliance (GCA) is working to ensure habitat protection, enforcement of protected areas, education and cooperation with local people as conservation priorities.


Indian Gharial Giant Crocodile

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