False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii)

False Gharial
photo by Fritz Geller-Grimm

Common Name: False Gharial, Malayan Gharial, or Sunda Gharial
Scientific Name: Tomistoma schlegelii
Family: Gavialidae – Gharial family
Locations: Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia
Size: 16 feet (5 meters)

The False Gharial is a shy species of crocodilian, living in deep, secluded forests where they rarely ever basking. Due to their secretive nature, not a lot is known about their life history. While their snout appears to have developed to eat fish, they actually eat a wide variety of food items, such as insects, crustaceans, and mammals including monkeys.

Courtship for the False Gharial occurs during periods of rain. The female lays between 15 – 35 eggs. Then, she build a mount over the eggs. The mounts are close to 2 feet high and 4.5 feet wide. The female does not provide any more care for their offspring, unusual for crocodilians. The eggs take around 90 days to hatch.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the False Gharial as Vulnerable to Extinction. Swamp forest habitat that they live in is being destroyed to make room for plantations.

The scientific name schlegelii honors German herpetologist Hermann Schlegel. The dude didn’t believe in evolution so I’m not sure why we honor him.

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