Gharial Range Map (Northern Indian Subcontinent)
Gharial Range Map
(Northern Indian Subcontinent)

Latin Name Gavialis gangeticus
Conservation Status Critically Endangered
Location Northern Indian Subcontinent
Colour Grey/Olive
Length 4 - 6 m (13 - 19.7 ft)
Weight Up to 450 Kgs (1,000 lbs)


Main Characteristics

The Gharial is one of the largest crocodilian species. They are between 4 and 6 m (13 - 19.7 ft) in length and they can weigh up to 450 kgs (1,000 lbs). They have a life expectancy in the wild of 40 - 60 years.

Gharial are large and slender with a distinctive narrow snout. The snout shape varies depending on the age of the animal - it becomes longer and thinner as they get older. Males have a bulbous growth, known as a ghara, on the end of their snout and this produces bubbles and sounds during courtship. They have extremely sharp teeth with there being 54 - 58 on their upper jaw and 50 - 52 on their lower jaw.

Gharial are grey/olive in colour with youngsters being paler. Their tail is laterally flattened and they have broadly webbed feet which enables them to be extremely agile and quick when in the water. Their legs are relatively weak and they cannot move well on land. They tend to slide along on their belly as their legs are not strong enough to raise their body off the ground and achieve a high-walk gait.


Gharial are found in the slow moving backwaters of large rivers in the northern Indian subcontinent. They spend most of their time in the water, only leaving it to bask in the sun or to lay eggs.


Gharials feed almost exclusively on fish although occasionally they will feed on water birds or carrion. Young Gharials will eat insects, larvae and small frogs.


During the breeding season males become very territorial and they assemble a harem of females. The breeding season is between November and January and mating takes place in the water.

Between March and May the female will leave the river and dig a nest in the river banks, away from the water's edge. In the nest she will lay up to 50 eggs with each egg being approximately 150 g (5 oz) in weight. The female will carefully cover the nest with soil and leave the eggs to hatch.

After approximately 90 days the hatchlings will emerge. They have to make their own way to the water as their mother doesn't carry them there and it is thought that this is due to her jaws not being suited to carrying young. She does however, protect them in the water for a few days until they learn to fend for themselves.


Humans are the main predators of Gharial.

Interesting Facts

Gharial are also known as:
Indian Gharial
Indian Gavial
Fish-eating Crocodile
Long-nosed Crocodile

The bulbous growth, known as the ghara, on the snout of male Gharial is named after the Indian word meaning "pot".

Similar Animals

False Gharial
Slender Snouted Crocodile


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