Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Reptilia, Order: Crocidilia, Family: Gavialidae, Genus: Gavialis, Species: gangeticus
The gharia (also known as the gavial) is a family of crocodilians with only one surviving species. Gharials are native to India and are characterized by their distinctive thin snout and almost exclusively fish diet.
Habitat and Diet
Gharials are largely limited to nature reservations in India and Nepal. The animals typically inhabit river systems and were once common in India until their population was reduced by 96% due to rampant hunting. Gharials are highly adapted to eating fish, with long, thin snouts with interlocking teeth to snag fish after ambushing them. Adults also eat some crustaceans and adolescents eat insects, small fish, and amphibians.
Like all reptiles, Gharials are cold-blooded. They reach lengths of up to 20.5 feet, but usually adults are 11 to 15 feet long. An average adult Gharial weighs 350 pounds. Like other Crocodilians, Gharials are able to easily move in and out of water. They are capable of quick bursts of speed no matter their environment but typically move at a slow pace.
Gharial Ecology and Adaptations
Gharials are the primary fish consumers of their environment. Their hooked teeth allow them to impale and snag fish while hunting. The long snouts that Gharials are known for reduce water friction while swimming and give them extra reach while feeding.
Threats to the Gharial
In 2007, there were 200-300 fertile adult Gharials left. This primarily occurred from over-hunting for their skin and other uses. Hunting is no longer a threat due to government regulations, however river habitat destruction and accidental injury from fishing nets still hurt Gharials. Conservation efforts are in place and Gharial populations are being heavily monitered.
"Gavial." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 May 2016.
"Gharial." Fact Sheet. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2016.
"Support the." Gavialis Gangeticus (Fish-eating Crocodile, Gavial, Gharial, Indian Gavial, Indian Gharial, Long-nosed Crocodile). N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2016.