CSL

Crocodylus palustris (LESSON, 1831)


NAMES | DISTRIBUTION | HABITAT | STATUS | APPEARANCE | IMAGES | DIET | BREEDING | CONSERVATION

FAMILY:
ALLIGATORIDAE

A. mississippiensis
A. sinensis
C. crocodilus
C. c. apaporiensis
C. c. fuscus
C. latirostris
C. yacare
M. niger
P. palpebrosus
P. trigonatus

FAMILY:
CROCODYLIDAE

C. acutus
C. intermedius
C. johnstoni
C. mindorensis
C. moreletii
C. niloticus
C. novaeguineae
C. palustris
C. porosus
C. rhombifer
C. siamensis
M. cataphractus
O. tetraspis
T. schlegelii

FAMILY:
GAVIALIDAE

G. gangeticus

DICHOTOMOUS KEY
[German]

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STATUS OF INFORMATION:
This information was most-recently updated January 2009 and is considered up-to-date. Please contact me directly regarding updates or corrections.

COMMON NAMES:
Mugger, Muggar, Marsh crocodile, Cocodrilo marismeño, Crocodile des marais, Crocodile paludéen, Crocodile palustre, Indian swamp crocodile, Makar, Äle Kimbula, Bhakuna, Broad-snouted crocodile, Dhakor Muhma, Gohi, Gomua, Häle Kimbula

NAME ETYMOLOGY:
> Crocodylus is derived from the Greek krokodeilos which means literally "pebble worm" (kroko = pebble; deilos = worm, or man) referring to the appearance of a crocodile.
> palustris means "marshy" or "swampy" (Latin), referring to extensive habitat where it is found, and hence one of its common names "Marsh crocodile"
> "Mugger" is a corruption of the Hindi word magar which means "water monster"

SUBSPECIES:
Crocodylus palustris kimbula suggested for populations in Sri Lanka, but this is not officially recognised.

DISTRIBUTION:
[CLICK ON MAP FOR DETAILED RANGE]
Distribution map Bangladesh, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, possibly areas of Indo-China.

HABITAT:
Freshwater rivers, lakes and marshes. Prefer slow-moving, shallower areas. They have also adapted to live in reservoirs, irrigation canals, and other man-made bodies of freshwater in India and Sri Lanka. Occasionally reported from saltwater lagoons. Sympatric with Gavialis gangeticus in some areas of India, but usually separated by habitat. Also known to dig burrows for shelter. They have been reported to migrate considerable distances over land (several km) in search of more suitable habitat.

STATUS:
     CITES: Appendix I
     IUCN Red List: VU A1a, C2a (VULNERABLE)
     Estimated wild population: 5,000 to 10,000

APPEARANCE:
[click on image for enlargement]
Head drawing Colour generally light tan in juveniles, with black cross-banding on body and tail. Adults are generally grey to brown, with little banding remaining. This is a medium to large species (4 to 5 m). The snout is the broadest of any member of the Crocodylus genus, giving the mugger a more alligatorine appearance. Enlarged scutes present around the throat area may serve a similar protective function when moving through shallow swampy areas as they do in Alligator mississippiensis. It is generally thought of as having a similar ecology to A. mississippiensis which may account for morphological similarities.

Dentition codeDENTITION:
4 (rarely 5) pre-maxillary; 14 maxillary; 15 mandibular
Total no. of teeth = 66-68

IMAGES:
[click on image for enlargement]

Click Head-on picture of adult Mugger Click Side view of adult Mugger head Click Overhead picture of head and neck

DIET:
Juveniles take crustaceans, insects and small fish generally. Adults eat larger fish, amphibians, reptiles (mainly snakes and possibly turtles), birds and mammals (e.g monkeys). Large adults have been known to take deer and buffalo on occasions.

BREEDING:
Females reach sexual maturity at around 1.7 to 2.0 m in length (usually around 6 years old), while males mature at about 2.6 m (10 years old). Nests are holes excavated during the dry season (from December to February). Location of the nest varies considerably (even within burrows on rare occasions, which is unusual as they are not normally associated with breeding activities), but they are most commonly found on sloping banks. The female usually lays 25 to 30 eggs (although this may range from 10 to 48 eggs). However, captive specimens have sometimes been observed laying two clutches per year, but this has yet to be observed under natural conditions. Eggs hatch after a relatively short period, usually 55 to 75 days, and the juveniles are around 30cm long at hatching. Research into the effects of temperature upon sex of the embryo (Temperature-dependant Sex Determination - TSD) has revealed male-only embryos at 32.5°C, with a greater percentage of females produced below and above this. Female-only embryos are produced between 28°C and 31°C. While the female usually guards the nest, opens it and transports hatchlings to the water in her mouth, the male has been observed undertaking this task in captivity.

CONSERVATION:
The species was threatened in the past by unregulated hunting for skins, but now the threats come from habitat destruction (considerable agricultural and industrial development), mortality in fishing nets (as they attempt to capture ensnared fish), egg collecting and illegal hunting (including the use of parts for medicinal purposes). Data on their status in the wild are variable. Although a number of populations exist throughout its range, they are isolated and their numbers are low. Several populations are feared to be extinct (e.g. Bangladesh, Myanmar). The largest populations are present in Sri Lanka, and are estimated to be around 2000 animals. In India, estimates of between 3000 and 5000 animals have been made, but these are split up into over 50 small populations.

Captive breeding and rearing programs in India have met with success, and restocking programs started in 1975 had been in operation until recently several protected areas. Excess numbers of captive-bred animals now reside in captivity, due to a decrease in the amount of suitable release sites in recent years. This is attributed to increased local opposition (mainly due to a lack of understanding) to the reintroductions in some areas - the Indian government has called a halt to all captive breeding of this species, and has discouraged any assessment of the commercial potential of this species in regard to its conservation - current management is usually based around protectionist policies which prohibit any interaction with the wild population. In other areas, interest in captive breeding and restocking programs are high (e.g. Pakistan). Principle threats to the species come from habitat alteration (e.g. damming projects), which affect both the ecology of the species and those upon which it relies for food.

MORE INFORMATION:
For more information on distribution and conservation issues for this species,see the CSG
Action Plan resource.

SIGNIFICANT REFERENCES:

  • Rao, RJ (1994). Ecological studies of Indian crocodiles, an overview. In: Crocodiles. Proceedings of the 12th Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. pp. 259-273
  • Whitaker, R (1987). The management of crocodilians in India. In: Wildlife Management: Crocodiles and Alligators (Eds. Webb, GJW, Manolis, SC & Whitehead, PJ). Surrey Beatty & Sons, Australia. pp. 63-72
  • Whitaker, R & Whitaker, Z (1984). Reproductive biology of the mugger. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 81(2): 297-316
  • Whitaker, R & Whitaker, Z (1989). Ecology of the mugger crocodile. In: Crocodiles. Their Ecology, Management and Conservation. A Special Publication of the Crocodile Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. pp. 276-297
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