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Gavialis gangeticus

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A crocodilian species belonging to the family Gavialidae endemic to the northern part of the Indian subcontinent and is characterized by its distinctive narrow snout which is advantageous for catching aquatic preys such as fish


Gavialis gangeticus (gavial or gharial) is a species of the family Gavialidae. It is native to the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. It is characterized by having a narrow snout that it uses for catching prey underwater. It feeds on fish, thus, it is also commonly referred to as the fish-eating crocodile. It catches fish by whipping its head sideways and bites firmly at its prey with its teeth that are small and razor-sharp. The adult male has a protuberance at the end of the snout thus resembling ghara, i.e. a Hindi earthenware pot.

Because of threats in losing their natural riverine habitat, depleting fish resources, and entanglement in fishing nets, the population of gavials declined significantly in the past 70 years and as such are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red list.1

Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Crocodilia
  • Family: Gavialidae
  • Genus: Gavialis
  • Species: G. gangeticus [Gmelin, 1789]

Common name(s):

  • gavial
  • fish-eating crocodile
  • gharial

See also:

1 Choudhury, B. C., Singh, L. A. K., Rao, R. J., Basu, D., Sharma, R. K., Hussain, S. A., Andrews, H. V., Whitaker, N., Whitaker, R., Lenin, J., et al. (2007). "Gavialis gangeticus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.