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Mugger crocodile, marsh crocodile, freshwater crocodile

Crocodylus palustris

Description:

The mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) is a medium-sized broad-snouted crocodile, also known as mugger and marsh crocodile. It is native to freshwater habitats from southern Iran to the Indian subcontinent, where it inhabits marshes, lakes, rivers and artificial ponds. It rarely reaches a body length of 5 m (16 ft 5 in) and is a powerful swimmer, but also walks on land in search of suitable waterbodies during the hot season. Both young and adult mugger crocodiles dig burrows to which they retreat when the ambient temperature drops below 5 °C (41 °F) or exceeds 38 °C (100 °F). Females dig holes in the sand as nesting sites and lay up to 46 eggs during the dry season. The sex of hatchlings depends on temperature during incubation. Both parents protect the young for up to one year. They feed on insects, and adults prey on fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. The mugger crocodile evolved at least 4.19 million years ago and has been a symbol for the fructifying and the destructive powers of the rivers since the Vedic period. It was first scientifically described in 1831 and is protected by law in Iran, India and Sri Lanka. Since 1982, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Outside protected areas, it is threatened by conversion of natural habitats, gets entangled in fishing nets and is killed in human–wildlife conflict situations and in traffic accidents.

Habitat:

Yala National Park. coastal lowlands. The Yala area is mostly composed of metamorphic rock belonging to the Precambrian era and classified into two series, Vijayan series and Highland series. Reddish brown soil and low humic grey soil are prominent among six soil types. Yala is situated in the lowest peneplain of Sri Lanka, which extends from Trincomalee to Hambantota. Topographically the area is a flat and mildly undulating plain that runs to the coast with elevation is 30 metres (98 ft) close to the coast while rising in the interior to 100–125 metres (328–410 ft). The national park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. The mean annual rainfall ranges between 500–775 millimetres (19.7–30.5 in) while the mean temperature ranges between 26.4 °C (79.5 °F) in January to 30 °C (86 °F) in April. It is windier in Yala, during the southwest monsoon compared to the wind during the northeast monsoon with wind speeds from 23 kilometres per hour (14 mph) to 15 kilometres per hour (9.3 mph). Water is abundant after the northeast monsoon, but during the dry season surface water becomes an important factor. The bodies of surface water appear in the forms of streams, tanks, waterholes, rock pools, and lagoons. Waterholes occur in low lying places while rock pools of varying size are capable of containing water year-round, and are hence an important source of water for elephants. For many water birds and water buffaloes natural waterholes are ideal habitats. Such reservoirs are largely concentrated to the Block I followed by Block II. Several tanks are there including, Maha Seelawa, Buthawa, Uraniya, and Pilinnawa tanks. Many rivers and streams flow in a southeasterly direction, originating in the highlands of adjacent Uva and central hills. Kumbukkan Oya in the east and Menik River and its tributaries in the west flow across the park, and provide an important water source in the dry season to wild animals of the park. Normally the streams of the park are dry during the drought season. These rivers and streams exhibit a degree of runoff fluctuations between wet and dry seasons. Kumbukkan Oya discharges seven times as much water in the rainy season than in the dry season. A number of lagoons are situated along the coast line of the park.

Notes:

My guide said this was a freshwater croc, but it looks different than all my other spottings of same (brighter color and smoother skin, and appears to be smaller based on context). I am guessing that this is a juvenile.

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jazz.mann
Spotted by
jazz.mann

Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Spotted on Aug 13, 2017
Submitted on May 31, 2021

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