Gavial, or Gharial, a large reptile related to the crocodile. The Indian gavial is found near rivers in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The male reaches a length of 18 feet (5.5 m); the female, a length of 13 feet (4 m). During the mating season, the male attracts a female by inflating a knob at the end of his snout. After mating, the female lays 30 to 40 eggs in a flask-shaped hole in the ground. The false gavial is a smaller, related species found in Indonesia and Malaysia. Both species are endangered due to indiscriminate hunting.

Who Are These Creepy Crocodilians?

They are gavials, which are also known as gharials (GAHR ee uhlz). A gavial looks like a crocodile. But it has a very long and very narrow snout. This snout sets the gavial apart from other crocodilians. A male gavial has a round growth at the end of his nose that makes him look rather “creepy.”

A gavial’s narrow jaws are not strong enough to catch large animals. But they are designed to catch fish. A narrow snout can snap shut quickly. And sharp teeth easily hold onto wiggling, slippery fish.

Gavials live in river habitats in India. They spend almost all their time in the water. When they do come on land to bask or to nest, they cannot walk as other crocodilians do. They don’t have the leg muscles needed to stand. So gavials must belly slide or swim wherever they want to go.

What Is a False Gavial?

The false gavial is a crocodilian with a long, narrow snout. But little else is known about it. Scientists are not even sure if the false gavial is a member of the gavial family or the crocodile family.

False gavials live in freshwater habitats. They often swim in slow-moving waters that are thick with plants and other vegetation. And false gavials eat fish as well as small mammals.

Like many crocodilians, false gavials build mound nests. But they do not take care of their hatchlings. For this reason, very few false gavial hatchlings survive.

The Indian gavial is Gavialis gangeticus of the family Gavialidae. The false gavial is Tomistoma schlegelii of the family Crocodylidae.