Gavial (Gavialis Gangeticus)

adult male develops a pot-like structure on the end of the snout, giving the gharial its name from "ghara" -- Hindi for earthen pot. - Downloaded 10/14/09

The Indian Gavial or Gharial is a reptile of the crocodile family. It usually grows to be about 12-15 feet long. The gavial looks like a smaller crocodile with a long narrow snout. The Gavial has about 100 small teeth that line the bottom and tops of its mouth. The male Gavial has a knob at the end of its snout. That knob is used to call the female during mating season.

Location and Natural Habitat

The Gavial is found in Northern India, it can also be found in parts of Nepal. The Indian Gavial lives in the calmer parts of deep, fast-moving rivers. The False Gavials are smaller gavials that often only grows to be about four meters, or 13 feet. Although the Gavial lives in fast flowing rivers, the false gavial lives in more swampy areas. The Indian Gavial is considered to be one of the rarest crocodile species in Asia because it's almost extinct in Bhutan, Bangladesh, northeast India, Burma/Myanmar and possibly Pakistan.
Location of Indian Gavial - Downloaded 10/14/09


The basic diet consists of frogs and other small fish and organisms that live in the water. The diet varies from adult and yound Gavials. The young Gavial eat a variety of invertabrate species like insects, while adults are almost exclusively fish eaters, because their jaws are perfectly shaped for catching them. They have 5 pre-maxillary, 23-24 maxillary, and 25-26 mandibular teeth, with a total of 106-110 teeth to catch those slippery ones with. The female only leaves the water to nest, while the males only leave to bask in the sun on the sandbanks. They usually grow up to 15 feet long, but have been found up to 23 feet long in eastern India. Females are mature when they reach around three meters. When the female Gavial lays eggs, she does so at night in a flask-shaped hole in the ground . The female lays somewhere betweeen 30 to 40 eggs at a time. Unlike most crocs, it does not enable it to raise its body off the ground (on land) to achieve the high-walk gait—being able only to push its body forward across the ground ('belly-sliding'), although it can do this with some speed when required. However, when in water, the gavial is the most nimble and quick of all the crocodiles in the world.

Predation & Poaching

The Indian Gavial is considered a critically endangered species. It reached the brink of extinction in 1970. Gavials are mainly endangered because they are hunted by humans for their skin. They are also endangered due to natural predators. Gavials also pose no threat to humans, mostly because of their weak jaws and small teeth.
Over 3000 animals were released through these programs, and the wild population in India recovered to an estimated 1500 adults - with perhaps between one and two hundred animals in the remainder of its range (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal) because of overfishing, habitat erosion, and water pollution sine 1981.

Conservation Efforts

As of now, there are not many organizations that have been formed for the sole conservation of the Indian Gavial. However one act that was passed that also covers the conservation of the Gavial is the Endangerd Species Act of 1973, or the ESA. The ESA was signed on December 28, 1973. It provides for the conservation of species that are either endangered or threatened. It Also pretects the ecosystems in which the species depend. Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, it has been ammened several times after being replaced by the ESA. It provides a program of threatened and endangered plants and animals, and the habitats in which they are found. Most recently, the Gharial Conservation Alliance (GCA) was established in 2007 with key gavial scientists and biologists that are funded to help maintain and grow the population of the species worldwide.

Work Cited

website owner name, year, article name, link

Adam Britton (1995-2009) Gavialis gangeticus ( GMELIN 1789)

Crocodile Specialist Group (1996). Gavialis gangeticus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Endangered (EN C2a, E v2.3)
Janke A, Gullberg A, Hughes S, Aggarwal RK, Arnason U. (2005). "Mitogenomic analyses place the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) on the crocodile tree and provide pre-K/T divergence times for most crocodilians." J Mol Evol. 61(5):620-6.