IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Biology

The distinctive narrow snout of the gharial is a superb adaptation for catching prey underwater. By providing very little resistance to water, it enables the gharial to whip its head sideways through the water to snatch fish with its small, razor-sharp teeth (2) (7). Although adults feed primarily on fish, juvenile gharials sustain themselves on a vast array of invertebrates (5). Adult females, which reach maturity and become sexually receptive at around ten years old, are defended in harems by individual males (5). Although its precise function is poorly understood, it is thought that the male's bulbous ghara may be a visual sex indicator, sound resonator or bubbling device utilised during courtship (6). Nesting occurs during the dry season when the females drag themselves onto dry land to excavate holes into which around 40 large eggs are buried (2) (5). The eggs are naturally incubated in the nest hole but the female remains near the nest to guard it from predators such as pigs, jackals, lizards and mongooses,. After around 70 days when the hatchlings are ready to emerge, they call out from inside the eggs, alerting the mother to dig the eggs out of the nest hole. While the gharial does not display the crocodilian habit of transporting hatchlings in its jaws, the young stay with their mother for several weeks to several months (2).

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Source: ARKive

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