False gharials are found in a variety of habitats throughout their range of South East Asia, including lowland freshwater swamp forests, flooded forests, peat swamps, lakes, and blackwater streams and rivers.
This species is an opportunistic carnivore, and eats a varied diet of fish, amphibians, insects, shrimp, small deer and small monkeys.
False gharials spend most of their time submerged in shallow wallows or mud-holes, with only their eyes and nostrils visible. Their long, narrow snout (containing 76 to 84 teeth!) is ideal for catching small fish. They sweep their head sideways with little water resistance to their thin snout, snapping the fish out of the water.
They have the largest known egg of any crocodile species (around 10cm). Females appear to make mounds where they will lay 20-30 eggs, which will hatch after 3 months. There is no direct evidence of hatchings receiving parental care.
This species used to be found in Thailand, but has now been extinct there since 1970. There is estimated to be less than 2500 individuals remaining in the wild but data unclear. Threats are habitat loss (farming and illegal logging), dams, drowning in fishing nets, overfishing and poaching.
- Latin Name: Tomistoma schlegelii
- Class: Reptiles
- Order: Crocodylia
- Family: Crocodylidae
- Conservation status: Endangered
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