Endangered Species week 3 – The Gharial
My childhood revolved around amphibians and reptiles. At first I absorbed information about dinosaurs, and then to supplement my need to see and touch them, I started to catch all the reptiles and amphibians that came across my path. I had multiple tanks that I would keep salamanders, snakes, and frogs in, and would recreate mini habitats over and over again to make them perfect replicas of their environment. I learned everything I could about their behaviors and how I could capture them.
Spring was my favorite time of year, because it was breeding season. I would walk miles, to various vernal pools, fill 5 gallon buckets with spotted salamander eggs, and carry them to the big pond in my yard. Eventually, the population was so large, that one Spring night, I pointed my flashlight into my pond, and the shore turned into hundreds and thousands of moving yellow spots.
Breeding migrations are absolutely amazing, and seeing the large congregations of salamanders is something that everyone should see. One breeding season I would really like to experience Alligator breeding season. Moving to the south has increased my experience with reptiles. Anoles and skinks are everywhere and in some cases you will find them in your house. At my old rental, in hopes to get rid of the bugs living in my house, I caught and released a bunch of lizards inside. I have to admit, it was pretty awesome cooking with a bunch of Anoles hanging out on the top of my stove. Yes, I am a herpetology nerd and I am proud of it!
Which brings me to my next installment of my Endangered species series: The Gharial. Since I lived in Maine most of my life, I hadn’t had a lot of experience with crocodiles and alligators. Now that I have been living in Georgia for three years, I have had the opportunity to feed Alligators at the Chehaw zoo, catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat at St. Marks Wildlife preserve, and was able to touch a juvenile at Go Fish. So, when I was researching about various endangered species and the Gharial popped up, I immediately put them on my list (along with St Augustine Alligator farm, because they have a few gharials that reside there).
The Gharial is an extremely endangered crocodilian species that lives in India. One of the largest reptilian species in the world, the Gharials population decline is due to a shrinking habitat. The jaw and external sexual characteristics of this reptilian, make it truly unique. Their long skinny jaws make them exceptional fishers, because their jaw closes much quicker than other crocodilian species.
Males are larger than the females and can reach up to 15ft, but before the 1940’s, it was not unheard of to find a specimen that was 20ft or more. Males also have a “ghara”, or knob made of cartilage, at the end of their snout and it is not fully developed until they reach sexual maturity at 13yrs. The ghara makes the gharial the only crocodilian species where the gender can be determined externally.
When drawing the gharial, I tried to think of the different ways to depict them. One idea I wanted to pursue was a drawing of gharial babies (because of this video shown here):
So many babies, but the chances of them surviving is slim to none. After stewing on the idea for a while, I decided to draw the gharials the way that they had brought my attention in the first place. They had a prehistoric look about them, so it was only fitting that I make a drawing similar to the old dinosaur illustrations of the books I use to absorb when I was a child.
The Gharial Drawings:
Prints in my Etsy shop:
References and organization links: