English Name :Estuarine or Salt Water Crocodile
Scientific Name :Crocodylus porosus
Family : Crocodylidae
Tamil Nmae : Kadal mudalai
Description: It is probably one of the largest of the present day reptiles. It looks similar to the fresh water living Marsh crocodile but is distinguished by their distribution when salt water crocodile is found in estuaries and tidal creeks and is not found in freshwater. It is dark olive or brownish above interspersed with yellow which is distinctive of the species. Its young are found with black markings above
Distribution and status: It had a wider distribution throughout India and now has a limited distributon.It has been reported to occur in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Rare. This species was facing extinction by hunting in previous days and now due to loss of habitat it is endangered.
Habitats It inhabits tidal estuaries of the large continental rivers, marine swamps and coastal brackish water lakes. It was recorded in Tamil Nadu and Kerala but is now locally extinct.
Habits: It resembles a Mugger in appearance but is more aquatic and sometimes seen far out in the sea. It is aquatic and has been observed to swim between islands in Andaman and Nicobar islands . In Bhitarkanika island of Orissa, these crocodiles spend considerable amount of their time in the mangroves. Several well marked trails lead into the forest and the sound of boats disturbs them from their day time retreats.
Food: It feeds mainly on fish found in abundance in the estuarine habitat. It has also prey on large animals and attacks on man have been recorded.
Life cycle: Mating commences during the dry region and hatchlings are observed with the arrival of monsoon. This is a mound nest builder. Incubation varies from 80 to 90 days. The female guards the nest from intruders. The young emit a small sound which makes the female ready to transfer the young from the nest to nearest water source.
Role in the environment: As in the Mugger crocodile, salt water crocodiles were priced for their skin. The present threat to these reptiles is habitat loss. Mangroves and estuaries are getting degraded leading to loss of habitat.
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean