What is a gharial?

The truly bizarre gharial is one of the world’s biggest crocodilians at over six metres (21 feet). It has an incredibly narrow snout, which provides little resistance so it helps the animal turn quickly in water. Gharials can be found in Indian rivers and its legs are too weak to lift its body off the ground, so it simply drags itself short distances up riverbanks to bask. To help lose excess heat the gharial opens its mouth wide, even if the rest of its body is submerged in water.

Along with their odd appearance, gharials attract mates in extremely weird ways. Males slap their jaws on the water’s surface, maze hissing and buzzing noises and blow bubbles with the bulbous tip of their snouts to impress surrounding females.

Pregnant females lay up to 60 large eggs (roughly the size of a human fist) in burrows on riverbanks where they incubate for 60 to 70 days. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the baby gharials call to their mother from inside the egg to let her know it’s time to dig the eggs up.


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Image from www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones