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Gharial: Gavialidae


Gharials live in clear, freshwater rivers with swift currents but prefer river bends and other areas where the water is flowing more slowly and is quite deep. They also seek out sandbars in the middle of the river and use them for sunbathing, or basking, to warm their bodies. Strangely, this freshwater animal has salt glands, which are found in animals that live in saltwater. The glands are small organs that get rid of extra salt. Scientists suspect that the gharial once—perhaps millions of years ago—could survive in saltwater and may have traveled across the oceans.


Scientists have long wondered about the round growth that appears on the nose of male gharials when they become adults. Many suspect that the growth, called a ghara, may do more than allow the animal to make its unusual buzzing sounds. Some researchers believe that the ghara helps the male to produce bubbles. Both the buzzing and the bubbles may help the males attract females during the mating season. Other scientists guess that the gharials look for the ghara to tell quickly which individuals are males and which are females.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesGharial: Gavialidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, GHARIALS AND PEOPLE