Fauna : Mugger (Crocodylus palustris)
IUCN Status :Vulnerable CITES : Appendix I
Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 : Schedule I
Height: Males : 5.5 mtrs (18 ft) Females 4 mtrs (13.1 ft)


Of the three crocodilian species found in India, the most common and widespread is the broad snouted Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris).

Also known as Marsh Crocodile this species inhabits a number of fresh water habitats such as rivers, lakes, reservoirs, hill streams, village ponds and man made tanks.

Medium in size and very broad snouted, Mugger appear primarily grayish in colour.

Perhaps Sri Lanka has the largest remaining population of wild Mugger crocodiles, but their range extends right through India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and possibly Myanmar to the East. In the West, they are still found in small numbers in parts of Pakistan and are known to occur as far as Iran.

Perhaps the best places to see Mugger crocodiles are the National Parks in Sri Lanka. In India, they are easily seen in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Corbett

National Park, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarahole National Park (on the banks of the Kabini) and Ranganathitoo Bird Sanctuary. They are also found in Chitwan National Park in Nepal.  
Hunting primarily in water, fish is their staple diet, although they are opportunistic feeders and will take birds and small and large mammals such as Chital (Cervus Axis), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa), otters, pythons and water birds. They are also known to scavenge on land occasionally, especially in Sri Lanka. As in all reptiles, they too voluntarily control their body temperature by basking, lying in shade and cooling off with their mouths open. In addition to this, Mugger crocodile use
sheltered spots like caves in rocky outcrops and at the base of big trees to retreat into in times of extreme heat and drought. They are also known to escavate burrows for this purpose.
Courtship commences in December/January and eggs are laid between January and March in a hole escavated by the female typically on sand or mud banks. The clutch has an average of 20 - 45 eggs and the incubation period is between 65 and 110 days depending upon the nest temperature. As in all crocodilian species, females zealously guard the nest. When the eggs are ready to hatch the calls of the hatchlings prompts the female to dig the nest. She picks them up in her gentle jaws and releases them in the water. The mother creates a crèche or nursery where the hatchlings stay until they disperse after 2-3 months. Females attain maturity when they are 1.5 m and males when they are 2 - 2.5m.
Bustard H.R. 1975: Crocodile conservation in India - Tigerpaper 2(4):17
Lang J.W, Andrews H & Whitaker R 1987 : Sex determination and sex ratios in Crocodylus palustris. From the symposium on Biology of the Crocodilia , presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Zoologists, 27-30, Dec.1987 at New Orleans.
Whitaker R & Daniel J.C 1980: The status of Indian crocodilians JBNHS 75:1238-1245
Whitaker R and Whitaker Z 1977: Notes on natural history of Crocodylus palustris JBNHS 74(2):358-360
Whitaker R and Whitaker Z 1989 : Ecology of the Mugger Crocodile - In Crocodiles : Their ecology, management and conservation. IUCN Publication ISBN 2: 880032-987-6

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