Muggers are rather large crocodiles living in India and other countries of southern Asia. These crocodiles are said to be more like an alligator than any other crocodile is. Their most alligator-like feature is their rounded snout. Most crocodiles have a pointier snout. You can tell this animal is a crocodile because its bottom and top teeth overhang its mouth when the mouth is closed. If you look at the American alligator, for example, only the top teeth show when the mouth is closed. Like most crocodilians, muggers have a flat head with their eyes, nose, and ears on top. This allows them to breathe, see, and hear above water when they are underwater. Although they have webbed feet, muggers do not use these for swimming. They save this job for their strong, flat tail. The word “mugger in this animal’s name is from a corruption of an Indian word meaning “water monster.”
Mugger crocodiles, although smaller than some other crocodilians, are still rather large. Full grown adults can be as “small” as 6.5 feet (2 m) in length or up to 16 feet (5 m) long. They average a length of 13 feet (3.9 m). Males are typically larger than the females and can weigh up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg).
Young mugger crocodiles consume mainly small fish, arthropods, and insects. As they get older, they are able to capture and eat larger prey such as birds, squirrels, frogs, and larger fish. They may even enjoy an occasional monkey if they are lucky!
Habitat and Range
The mugger crocodile is found mostly in India. Their range also extends in to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They were at one point found in Bangladesh as well, but most people think they are now extinct there. The map below shows their range includes Bangladesh, the small country to the right of India. Almost anywhere with standing water is habitable for the mugger crocodile. They do prefer shallow, calm water, but these places can take on many forms. Human-made ponds, lakes, marshes, and even water reservoirs contain mugger crocodiles on their list of inhabitants. Freshwater is not a requirement for these reptiles, as saltwater lagoons near the coast sometimes are home to mugger crocodiles.
Status and threats
The mugger crocodile has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. There are three main reasons people hunt the mugger crocodile: for traditional Indian medicine, for their skins, and for sport. Especially during the 50s and 60s these reptiles were facing problems due to the desire for their skin. Currently, hunting is not the main threat for mugger crocodiles as it is illegal. Their habitat being destroyed, them getting stuck in fishing nest and drowning, and their eggs being collected by humans are all common dangers these crocs face. There are only a few known natural predators of the mugger crocodile – other crocodiles and tigers.
Mating, eggs, and young
Mugger crocodile mating season lasts from January to March – meaning it is starting about now. Just one month after mating, the females lay between ten and forty-eight eggs each. These eggs are laid in a nesting site to which the female returns every year. As with many reptiles, the temperature the eggs are incubated at determines the gender of the hatchlings. Eggs that are kept at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.5 degrees Celsius) will be males. If the eggs are incubated at a temperature much higher or lower than that temperature, they will end up females. The eggs are incubated for 55 to 75 days before hatching.
The young mugger crocodiles are about one foot (30 cm) long when they first hatch. Juvenile mugger crocodiles remain in their mother’s territory for up to a year. This is helpful so the females can then focus on caring for the next clutch of eggs. Females become mature at six years of age, but males wait four more years to grow up. These reptiles are fairly long-lived. They have been recorded living longer than forty years!
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- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animals of the World: An expert reference guide to 840 amphibians, reptiles and mammals from every continent*
- Muggers – jackol
- Light mugger – Paul Asman
- Mugger range – Achim Raschka
- Mystery animal – molvray.com
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