General: The gharial is second only to the saltwater crocodile in size, growing up to 21 feet in length! It is found in the rivers of India and surrounding countries. The elongated snout is perfect for catching its main food…fish!
Let’s look at three simple IKs* for the gharial:
1st IK: Long narrow snout; adult males have a bulb, or ghara, on the tip.
2nd IK: Many interlocking teeth show when the gharial’s mouth is closed.
3rd IK: They slide on land because gharials are not able to lift their bellies off the ground.
You could pretty much spot a gharial without the second and third IKs, but it’s always nice to have backup info. My next blog will test your knowledge on all three types of crocodilians, so you can enjoy spotting the differences when you next see one!
The gharial is considered an endangered animal…for more information, visit the Gharial Conservation Alliance.
*On many of my blog posts, I will have photos showing readily identifiable characteristics of each animal. I will provide a general description that gives clues to help identify the animal, and then some specific Identification Key, or IKs, as seen and described in the photos. (More about identification keys here.)
Top photo courtesy Gharial Conservation Alliance and Saravana Kumar.