The maximum length for this crocodile is 4-5 meters, and maximum weight is 700 kg. It has rough thick scales covering the whole body with a muddy brown coloring. It has the widest snout among all crocodile species. The length of an adult crocodile’s tail is about 1.8 meters long. There seems to be no visible difference between the sexes, except that the female is smaller.
A hatchling would measure 0.27 meters and weigh less than 0.3 kg. It is considered a juvenile when it reaches 1.4 meters long and weighs 3-30 kg. (Chang, et al., 2013; Da Silva and Lenin, 2010; Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
Crocodile hatchlings are in clutches of 25-30 eggs. They require a specific temperature and humidity for them to develop successfully. Grigg and Kirshner (2015) reported the temperature needed for successful growth and survival has been recorded at an average 37.0C and a humidity of an average of 75.3%. However, for sex determination, Lang et al. (1998) report that all females develop at temperatures between 28-31C. At temperatures of 32.5C and above, all males develop. However, Lang et al. report "Both sexes are produced in varying proportions at 31.5, 32.0, and 33.0C." This temperature discrepancy may be related to recording errors in the wild as compared to the constant temperatures that can be maintained in captivity.
The hatchlings lay under little shelves underneath the entrance, in the nest where they are able to hide from other species. They are unable to defend themselves until they yearlings. The female mugger crocodile is sexually mature when it is 1.8-2 meters long. Females takes about 8-10 years to reach sexual maturity. It takes males 12-15 years to reach sexual maturity. (Da Silva and Lenin, 2010; Grigg and Kirshner, 2015; Lang, et al., 1989)
Not much has been reported for the mating habits of the mugger crocodile. However, in other species in the same genus there are many ways that crocodiles perform rituals before mating. In Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) the male must swim around the female before it can show its testis. Nile crocodiles slap their heads against each other to compete and earn the privilege to mate with the female. The crocodiles make humming sounds for courtship. Females lift their snout to signal submission when approached by a male. This can also mean submission for courting. The mugger crocodiles make burrows for their nests. Either the female or the male can make the nest, but the female maintains it. (Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
Although reproduction in captivity is difficult the successful cases have been reported. In the wild females reach sexual maturity at lengths of 1.8-2m and ages of 8-10 years. It takes males 12-15 years to reach sexual maturity. Mugger crocodiles lay eggs during the annual dry season. They have been known to lay around 25-30 eggs per clutch. In captivity they are known to lay 2 clutches a year. However, this has not been observed in the wild. The average incubation period for the eggs is 55-75 days. The crocodiles can become independent when they are yearlings and large enough to defend themselves. (Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
The female mugger crocodile defends and attends to the nest. The female continuously adjusts the temperature of the nest for suitable conditions for hatchlings and herself. It is difficult to observe how the mugger crocodile takes care of the hatchlings due to inaccessibility of the nests. The young stay near the nest until they are yearlings, but it's unclear how much care the female extends towards them. The male does not take care of the young. (Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
Information about the mugger crocodile’s longevity is understudied and any information about it is conjectural. Carey and Judge (2000) report this species living 28.4 years in the wild. Snider and Bowler (1992) have it recorded as it living as long as 31.5 years in captivity. (Carey and Judge, 2000; Grigg and Kirshner, 2015; Snider and Bowler, 1992)
The crocodiles are poikilothermic reptiles and they need to alter their internal temperature by basking. Mugger crocodiles dig burrows to help maintain and protect them from ambient temperature changes. These burrows are important for the crocodile’s survival, protecting the crocodiles when temperature drop below 5 degrees Celsius or exceed 38 degrees Celsius. Individuals of all ages dig burrows to do this. Members of this species are ferocious when threatened or when their nest is being preyed upon.
Although assumed to be rather sedentary, it's been reported that this species takes "long-distance overland treks" in portions of its range. These treks have been reported in India, Sri Lanka, and Iran. (Chang, et al., 2013; Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
Home range has not been reported for the mugger crocodile. Females are known to defend burrows but an area has not been defined. (Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
Mugger crocodiles normally float on the surface of the water with just their nose or eyes protruding from the surface of the water. They rely on their eyes, nose, and ears when they are above the surface of the water. When they are submerged, they rely on their skin, feeling vibrations in the water. Their skin is a unique sensory organ. It is similar to the lateral line network in fish but is unique to the crocodiles. They are so sensitive that they can detect the pH of the water. This sensory network presumably plays a part in the crocodile’s courtship behavior. They stroke and rub each other’s head for mating rituals. (Chang, et al., 2013; Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
The mugger crocodiles are opportunistic carnivores. They are capable of eating any animal smaller than them including other crocodiles. They are considered ‘sit and wait’ hunters and can eat birds and bats that try to eat off the surface of the water. They eat even other eggs of species. As hatchlings, mugger crocodiles eat small insects and other small invertebrates, including crustaceans. However, as they grow, so does the average size of their prey items. Crocodiles can eat 10% to 25% of their body weight in a single meal. For a crocodile with a length greater than 2 meters they can eat 3000g of food. However a crocodile smaller than 0.5 meters can only eat 150g of food in one feeding. (Chang, et al., 2013; Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
The mugger crocodile is the top predator in its ecosystem. The only danger of predation is during the hatchling stage. Crows and dingoes (Canis lupus dingo) have been reported as nest predators. There has been human (Homo sapiens) predation of the eggs of the species, and human fishermen may occasionally kill an adult. (Chang, et al., 2013; Grigg and Kirshner, 2015)
Mugger crocodiles perform a role in maintaining the structure and function of fresh water ecosystems because they are a top predator and keystone species affecting all of the animals below them in the food chain. The only recorded species of parasites that have inhabited the mugger crocodile are the tongueworms Subtriquetra megacephala and Subtriquetra shipleyi. (Chang, et al., 2012; Junker and Boomker, 2006)
Homo sapiens, still hunt for other reasons besides just their skin. Their bones and scales are fabled to have medicinal properties that the older generation still uses. Poachers also steal eggs of the species to sell on the black market. (Da Silva and Lenin, 2010; Thorbjarnarson, 1999)is killed for its skin to make leather products. However, it has decreased since the 1930’s because of laws forbidding hunting of endangered species. However people,
Mugger crocodiles have been an economic liability in areas where fishing is a large part of the economy. As top predators, these crocodiles may decrease fish biodiversity. Crocodiles have been known to attack fishermen. (Da Silva and Lenin, 2010; Thorbjarnarson, 1999)
Mugger crocodiles are categorized as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List criteria for threatened species. This species is not under the US list because it is not indigenous to the United States. The crocodile is listed under Appendix I of CITES, this includes species threatened with extinction. Hunting and trading of this species is permitted only in “exceptional circumstances.” That has been stated by the Appendix I of CITES. Historically, the primary threats to mugger crocodiles have been habitat destruction, fragmentation, drowning in fishing nets, egg predation by people, and the use of crocodile parts for medicinal purposes. Currently, the main risks to the species are changes to habitat and mortality in fishing nets. Many breeding facilities that are used to increase the population have been shut down and are used to hold the surplus eggs in stock. This is because there have been observations of the crocodile population increasing. There has been an increase in crocodile sightings and attacks which has led to this reasoning. Many laws have been placed by India, Pakistan, Iran, and Sri Lanka to outlaw the hunting and harming of mugger crocodiles. Mugger crocodiles have received the highest legal protection in Pakistan as it is listed in Schedule I of the Pakistan Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Those who have been found guilty have been punished by loss or suspension of their hunting license for all animals. (; Chang, et al., 2013; Da Silva and Lenin, 2010; Saleem, et al., 2015; Thorbjarnarson, 1992)
Gregory Steeves (author), Radford University, Cari Mcgregor (editor), Radford University, Zeb Pike (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, April Tingle (editor), Radford University, Jacob Vaught (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
uses sound to communicate
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
parental care is carried out by females
Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
a species whose presence or absence strongly affects populations of other species in that area such that the extirpation of the keystone species in an area will result in the ultimate extirpation of many more species in that area (Example: sea otter).
marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
an animal that mainly eats fish
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
uses sight to communicate
Bayani, A., J. Trivedi, B. Suresh. 2011. Nesting behaviour of Crocodylus palustris (Lesson) and probable survival benefits due to the varied nest structures. Electronic Journal of Environmental Science, 4/2: 85-90.
Brazaitis, P. 1981. Maxillary regeneration in a marsh crocodile, Crocodylus palustris. Journal of Herpetology, 15/3: 360-362.
Carey, J., D. Judge. 2000. Longevity Records: Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish. Denmark: Odense University Press.
Chang, M., G. Gachal, A. Qadri, M. Shaikh. 2012. Bio-ecological status, management and conservation of marsh crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris). Sindh University Research Journal (Science Series), 44/2: 209-214.
Chang, M., G. Gachal, A. Qadri, Z. Khowaja, M. Sheikh. 2013. Current conservational status of marsh crocodiles in Haleji. Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences, 3/8: 64-72.
Choudhury, B., A. da Silva. 2013. "Crocodylus palustris" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T5667A3046723.. Accessed January 28, 2016 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/5667/0.
Da Silva, A., J. Lenin. 2010. Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris. Pp. 94-98 in S Manolis, C Stevenson, eds. Crocodiles. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Manolis, SC: American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.
Grigg, G., D. Kirshner. 2015. Crocodylians. Ithica, New York: Csiro Publishing.
Junker, K., J. Boomker. 2006. A check-list of the pentastomid parasites of crocodilians and freshwater chelonians. Journal of Veterinary Research, 73/1: 27-36.
Lang, J. 1987. Crocodilian behavior: Implication for management. Pp. 273-294 in J Grahame, ed. Wildlife Management: Crocodiles and Alligators. Grand Forks, ND: Wildlife Management.
Lang, J., H. Andrews, R. Whitaker. 1989. Sex Determination and Sex Ratios in Crocodylus palustris. American Zoologist, 29/3: 935-952.
Masum, K., Z. Rahman, M. Alamgir, A. Mamun, M. Abdullah-Al-Mamun. 2012. Breeding difficulty of marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris, Lesson, 1831) in Safari Park of Bangladesh. Journal of Forest Science, 28/4: 220-226.
Rao, L. 2009. Cytogenetic Characterization and Fluorescence in situ Hybridization of (GATA)(10) Repeats on Established Primary Cell Cultures from Indian Water Snake (Natrix piscator) and Indian Mugger (Crocodylus palustris) Embryos. Cytogenetic and Genome Research, 2/4: 287-296.
Saleem, M., G. Sarwar, A. Hussain, K. Hussain, M. Yusuf, R. N.. 2015. Distribution, population status and threats of marsh crocodiles in Chotiari Wetland Complex Sanghar, Sindh-Pakistan. Biharean Biologist, 9/1: 22-28.
Sivaperuman, J., P. Padmanabhan. 2006. Review of the reintroduction programme of the mugger crocodile Crocodylus palustris in Neyyar reservoir, India. The Herpetology Journal, 16/1: 69-76.
Snider, A., J. Bowler. 1992. Longevity of Reptiles and Amphibians in North American Collections, Second Edition. Milwaukee, WI: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.
Stacey, B., N. Whitaker. 2000. Hematology and blood biochemistry of captive mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 31/3: 339-347.
Thorbjarnarson, J. 1992. Crocodiles: An Action Plan for their Conservation. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.
Thorbjarnarson, J. 1999. Crocodile tears and skins: International trade, economic constraints, and limits to the sustainable use of crocodilians. Issues in International Conservation, 13/3: 465-470.
Vyas, R. 2012. Current status of marsh cocodiles Crocodylus palustris (Reptilia: Crocodylidae) in Vishwamitri River, Vadodara City, Gujarat, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 4/14: 3333-3341.