Milissent Mccluskey

Milissent Mccluskey

Modified & Updated: 08 Sep 2023


The Gharial, also known as the gavial or fish-eating crocodile, is a unique creature that inhabits the rivers of the Indian subcontinent. Its long and slender snout, distinctive body shape, and specialized diet make it stand out among its reptilian relatives. In this article, we will explore 12 fascinating facts about the gharial, shedding light on its behavior, habitat, and conservation status. From its ancient lineage to its endangered status, the gharial offers a captivating glimpse into the world of reptiles. So, let’s dive into the riveting world of the gharial and uncover some surprising facts about this fascinating creature.

Table of Contents

The Gharial is a unique crocodilian species.

The Gharial, scientifically known as Gavialis gangeticus, is a fascinating crocodilian species found primarily in the Indian subcontinent. It is known for its long and slender snout, which sets it apart from other crocodiles.

The gharial has a specialized diet.

The gharial is a piscivorous reptile, meaning it primarily feeds on fish. Its long, thin snout enables it to swiftly snatch fish from the water, making it an efficient predator. This distinct dietary preference sets the gharial apart from other crocodilian species.

The gharial has a limited habitat range.

Gharials primarily inhabit freshwater river systems in the Indian subcontinent. They are commonly found in rivers such as the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Indus. The species requires clean and flowing water for both breeding and survival.

Gharials are critically endangered.

Sadly, gharials are currently classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Habitat loss, pollution, and illegal hunting have significantly impacted their population numbers, making conservation efforts crucial for their survival.

Male gharials have a unique growth on their snout.

Adult male gharials develop a bulbous growth called the “ghara” on the tip of their snout. This structure serves multiple purposes, including vocalization during mating rituals and visual display during territorial disputes.

Gharials are one of the largest crocodilian species.

Despite their slender appearance, adult gharials can reach impressive lengths of up to 5-6 meters, making them one of the largest crocodilian species in the world. Females are generally smaller, reaching lengths of around 3-4 meters.

Gharials have a unique reproductive behavior.

During the breeding season, male gharials emit a loud buzzing sound called “Gharial language” to attract females. They also perform elaborate underwater courtship displays, involving head-slapping and bubble blowing.

Female gharials lay their eggs in sandy riverbanks.

After mating, female gharials search for suitable sandy riverbanks to lay their eggs. They carefully construct nests and lay up to 50-60 eggs. The female then guards the nest until the eggs hatch, which typically takes around 70-95 days.

Youth gharials have distinctive markings.

Gharials hatch with unique yellowish-brown markings on their body. These markings help camouflage them in the sand and vegetation, providing them with protection in their early stages of life.

Gharials have a long lifespan.

Gharials are known for their longevity, with individuals capable of living for over 60 years in the wild. This impressive lifespan allows them to contribute to the ecosystem for extended periods.

Gharials play a vital role in the ecosystem.

As apex predators, gharials play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitats. By regulating fish populations, they help preserve the health of rivers and other aquatic ecosystems where they reside.

Conservation efforts are being made to protect gharials.

Various organizations and government bodies are actively involved in conservation efforts to protect and restore gharial populations. These initiatives include habitat preservation, captive breeding programs, and raising awareness about the importance of protecting this unique species.


Now that you know these 12 fascinating facts about gharials, you have gained a deeper understanding of this unique and critically endangered species. From their iconic long snouts filled with sharp teeth to their specialized hunting techniques, gharials truly are remarkable animals.

It is important to continue raising awareness about gharials and supporting conservation efforts to ensure their survival. By preserving their natural habitats, tackling environmental challenges, and promoting sustainable fishing practices, we can help protect these ancient creatures.

Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, a researcher, or simply curious about the natural world, learning about gharials offers a glimpse into the diversity and wonder of our planet’s animal kingdom.


Q: Where can gharials be found?

A: Gharials are primarily found in the rivers and estuaries of the Indian subcontinent, including India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Q: What do gharials eat?

A: Gharials mainly feed on fish, using their long, slender snouts to snatch their prey underwater.

Q: How long can gharials grow?

A: Female gharials can reach lengths of up to 13-15 feet, while males are slightly smaller, usually measuring around 12 feet.

Q: Are gharials dangerous to humans?

A: Gharials are not typically a threat to humans. They are generally shy and avoid human contact, preferring to retreat into the water when approached.

Q: How many eggs do gharials lay?

A: Female gharials lay around 30-50 eggs in sandy riverbanks. They incubate the eggs and protect the nest until they hatch.

Q: What is the current conservation status of gharials?

A: Gharials are critically endangered due to habitat loss, human disturbance, and illegal hunting. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and increase their populations.

Q: How long do gharials live?

A: Gharials have a lifespan of about 40-60 years in the wild.

Q: Can gharials swim fast?

A: Yes, gharials are excellent swimmers and can swim swiftly through the water using their powerful tails.

Q: Why are gharials called fish-eating crocodiles?

A: Gharials are often referred to as fish-eating crocodiles because fish comprise the majority of their diet.

Q: Do gharials have any predators?

A: Gharials have few natural predators, but their eggs and hatchlings may fall prey to birds, turtles, and other crocodile species.

Q: Can gharials live in saltwater?

A: No, gharials are strictly freshwater reptiles and cannot survive in saltwater environments.

Q: How many gharials are left in the wild?

A: It is estimated that there are fewer than 1,000 gharials remaining in the wild.