English Name: Mugger or Marsh Crocodile (
Scientific Name : Crocodylus palustris
Tamil Name : Muthalai
Description:: Snout broad and in the field marsh and estuarine crocodile are difficult to distinguish but they do not occur together. It is olive brown with speckles of black which are more evident in young. It is whitish or yellowish white below. Scales on limbs keeled. Fingers webbed at the base; outer toes extensively webbed. Male mugger crocodiles are larger than females, a trait called sexual dimorphism.
Distribution and status: The mugger crocodile can be found in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, the southern tip of Iran, and probably in Indo-China and at one point, even in Southern Iraq. The mugger is the only crocodilian found in Iran and Pakistan. This crocodile is the most common and widespread of the three species of crocodiles in India, far out numbering the much larger saltwater crocodile within the country (and most likely within neighboring countries). Within this range it has become extinct in certain areas.
Habitat It inhabits rivers, lakes and other large water bodies throughout the subcontinent. Sometimes those living in temporary water bodies migrate to permanent sources of water
Habits:. Large individuals spend the day basking on the bank or a rock facing the water slipping into the water at the least alarm. The open mouth when basking is a means of heat control. It lives in burrows in most areas. The Mugger is an excellent swimmer with the tail being used as an excellent propellant.
Food : Hunts mostly in water and they prey is fish but will take in anything that can be overcome. Younger animals feed largely on water insects, snails, frogs and any fish they can overcome. Usually silent but hisses loudly when threatened, facing the enemy with snapping jaws and a lashing tail.
Life cycle: Scent glands enable the sexes to find each other during the breeding season. Female lays eggs in a pitcher shaped hole dug by her in sand, earth or gravel on a stream, river, lake or tank bank often at some quite some distance There are 3-40 or more eggs in a clutch. The female guards the nest from predators.
Role in the environment: Due to the overexploitation of adults for the leather industry, populations were endangered before the enactment of the Wild life protection Act ,1972. Now there is threat to these crocodiles due to habitat loss. Captive breeding centers have balanced the loss.
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean